Volvo wanted to locate at a port. We pitched Rocky Mount to them.

pat worriedNo freakin’ joke.  The Port City of  Rocky Mount. 

The McCrory administration is howling mad at the General Assembly for not coughing up enough bribe money to entice Volvo to build its new plant within the Tar Heel State.  But a key source familiar with the details of the deal tells me our pitch to woo Volvo had a geography problem:

”They wanted a port.  They wanted to be by the water. They plan to be importing a lot of stuff to be used at that plant.  So, do we pitch Wilmington? No, we offer Rocky Mount.  Last time I checked, there were no ships mooring in Rocky Mount to offload their cargo. ”

Here is a report from the Charleston paper citing Volvo officials suggesting that the city’s port was a key to their decision to commit to South Carolina.

My source also dismissed the administration’s sobbing about not having enough money:

”Kentucky threw money at Volvo — at a pace we probably could not have matched — and they got knocked out of the game quick. It was all about the port. I’m telling you.”rm.fw

The Atlanta Journal Constitution was reporting as early as April 20 that North Carolina was out of contention in the fight for Volvo’s new plant.  Their reporting cited Savannah and Charleston — both major port cities — as the two finalists. 

Give the customer what they want.  That’s a major business principle.  If they ask for a site on top of Mount Mitchell, show them some.  

They wanted a port, and you showed them Rocky Mount, and it’s the fault of the legislature ?????   

Kentucky understands that you can’t depend on bribing your way to economic development victories.  I wish we could get that through to some folks in the administration. 



18 thoughts on “Volvo wanted to locate at a port. We pitched Rocky Mount to them.

    1. Actually, Volvo has not been the same since the last Volvo 1800 rolled off the assembly line in 1974. In its variants, the P1800, 1800S, and 1800E, it was the only real sports car Volvo ever built. If you ever watched the old TV show The Saint, the Volvo 1800 was the car driven by Roger Moore playing Simon Templar.

      The Volvo 1800 also illustrates why Volvo likes to be near ports. The P1800 cars had the bodies built by Jensen in the UK and shipped to Sweden where the drive trains were installed.

      A Volvo 1800 also has the Guiness Book of World Records title for the most milage on one car by one owner, with one clocked in with just under 3 million miles and the owner still driving it as his main car.

      1. Raphael, if you are coming to the ncgop convention we need to meet it is that simple. Someone that can talk politics and classic volvos. I’m amazed

  1. Who in the government was responsible for the negotiations?
    Names please, of our public servants!
    Why was Rocky Mount presented?
    Why was Wilmington not presented?

    1. Here is the list from the Department of Commerce website: These are the people who should be called on the carpet for this blunder:

      According to the Boards of Elections online records, not one of their top business recruitment executives is a Republican. The head man is, in fact, a Democrat. It looks like they are either career bureaucrats or Democrat politicals who were held over. Neither of the Secretaries of this department under McCrory has been a Republican, so either could be the case.

      When you have people not in your political camp handling major decisions, there is a danger of them deliberately screwing something up. but unlike GOP Governors Martin and Holshouser, McCrory has often failed to staff the departments of his administration with loyal Republicans. Hopefully, he will do better in that regard in a second term.

  2. I think the NC officials realized that Volvo only thought they wanted to be near a port. Or either our experts knew that sea level rise would make Rocky Mount a port by the time Volvo opened up.

    Personally I think it is the “she crab soup” that is attracting all these companies to South Carolina. Plus the fact that South Carolina is not wishy-washy. While the rest of the South was dallying they fired on Fort Sumter.

    Folk down there in South Carolina get right to the point while we spend our time on “Moral Monday.” The question is how many of those Moral Monday protesters could even fit in a Volvo? If we had land that Volvo plant maybe the Moral Monday protest groups would have a job to go to.

  3. Hmmm! In the Nixon administration, Rocky Mount was in the Appalachians. Now in the McCrory administration, it is on the coast.

    In the Nixon administration, the president wanted to give a speech about his administration’s programs for Appalachia, and his staff duly set up and announced the speech for Rocky Mount, NC.

    Seriously, we either have some really dense bureaucrats at the Dept. of Commerce, or some who had some private agendas, and / or someone with interests in Rocky Mount that had some pull in the department. Since neither of McCrory’s Secretaries of Commerce have been a Republican, and it would appear that many of their lower appointees have not been either, if this reflected some political pull, it was unlikely to be Republican political pull.

    However this came about, there need to be some pink slips going out in the Department of Commerce, including at high levels. These idiots threw away NC’s shot at a major employer by not showing them the location they wanted – a port. What was wrong with showing them Wilmington, or Brunswick County or even Carteret County (port of Morehead City) or Craven County?

  4. Even though the second coming of Christ pales in comparison, I guess the looming white elephant Rocky Mount Event Center wasn’t enough… Let me seeeeee….. event center or port; humm event center or port… oh these difficult decisions! I know that some brain cells died in Raleigh over this one…

  5. That was President Lyndon Johnson – not Nixon – whose staff took in to visit poor “Appalachians” in Rocky Mount, NC.

  6. Is it possible that the big old Global Transpark, sitting out there like an airport in Antarctica, was something politicians could learn from? I’ve driven past it for years and have seen nothing. Political favors don’t always translate to commerce.

  7. Maybe the Department of Commerce was just using old maps, I mean really old maps. Rocky Mount is partly in Edgecombe County, and the county seat of Edcombe County, Tarboro, had steamboat service up the Tar River in the 19th century. Of course, that never resumed after the War of Northern Aggression, and today low fixed bridges from east of Greenville on upriver would make resumption impossible.

  8. Stop the bribes. Lower taxes for all. Start with the gas tax to be competitive with border states.

  9. I disagree with your complete dismissal of Rocky Mount as a key contender in this. The region sits at the juncture of two major highways- 95 and 64. While not at the water like Charleston and Savannah, they are mere hours away from Virginia ports that are known to be deeper than Charleston and Savannah. The Rocky Mount mega site was presented because other sites in North Carolina couldn’t compete. The Kingsboro mega site has rail access literally on the site. It is shovel ready in the sense that paperwork can be filed and they can break ground in 30 days. All ecological studies on the land are already done- all things other sites in NC couldn’t say.The mega site in Charleston that was chosen has to have rail access added and the land has to be “cleaned up.” I don’t think anyone saw the distance from ports as a drawback, especially when the site and the region have so much to offer. So, before you knock the state of North Carolina for highlighting Rocky Mount, do your research. Volvo had a fair look at all cities and chose to continue looking at the mega site in Edgecombe County. I say this a a resident of Beaufort, SC- right between Charleston and Savannah. I want to see Eastern North Carolina be competitive!

      1. The Kingsboro mega site in Edgecombe County. It is a 1500 acre “clean” site with rail access on location. This was the site Volvo was considering. Considered a mega site- an economic development term for tracts of property that specifically are parceled together for large industrial recruitment, such as an auto plant.

        Details for the site here:

    1. This is clearly an insider posting who is defending the agency, and clearly they got Volvo’s priorities all wrong. The things they considered important were clearly not the ones that Volvo did. How they could screw up so badly is a question that really needs to be asked.

      1. Yes, Raphael. I am involved in economic development in the region and know the exact details of the project. I didn’t get any details wrong. How can you or anyone else in public believe you have any greater authority than the organization to comment on something you were not privy to details on? It was not Rocky Mount’s fault for losing that project. Just trying to get the word out in the midst of wrong reporting.

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