The German Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy, Brigitte Zypries visited Greenville, SC on a multi-stop U.S. Tour
Minister Brigitte Zypries and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster
Coming from Washington, German Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy, Brigitte Zypries and her delegation met with South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster and Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt and visited two German companies in Greenville on May 24th.
After an early working breakfast, the delegation including Ambassador Peter Wittig and Consul General Detlev Ruenger, visited the German automotive supplier Baier & Michels. The globally operating b&m-group has established a strong position in the field of fastener technology and C-parts-management within the automotive industry.
Enlarge image The delegation in front of Baier & Michels (© Germany.info) Minister Zypries was welcomed by CEO Peter Federolf and senior staff. The tour of the facility gave insights into how b&m develops customized innovative solutions for a wide range of customers. With b&m-logistics, the b&m-group has a specialized company which can optimize the supply chain worldwide through most innovative logistical solutions like RFID. The Greenville location serves as a distribution center to supply most automotive manufactures operating in the United States. During a small reception, the delegation had opportunity to meet with the employees.
Enlarge image (left to right) Consul General Ruenger, BMW plant manager Flor, Minister Zypries and Ambassador Wittig (© BMWi) The next stop was the BMW Zentrum in Spartanburg for a tour of the plant. BMW President and CEO Knudt Flor welcomed the delegation and explained that BMW manufacturing is in the midst of another $1 billion expansion, which includes construction of a new, state-of-the-art body shop, expansion of the X5/X6 Assembly hall, expansion of a logistics warehouse and construction of two new indoor test tracks. This expansion will increase the annual capacity to 450,000 units and add a fifth model to the vehicle lineup – the all-new BMW X7.
Enlarge image Minister Zypries with Ambassador Wittig (left) and Consul General Ruenger and BMW trainees (© BMWi) Currently, BMW Manufacturing produces more than 1,400 vehicles each day. The factory is the exclusive producer of all BMW X3, X4, X5 and X6 SUV’s and coupes, which are exported to more than 140 global markets. Last year, the Spartanburg plant produced 400,904 vehicles, making it the largest BMW plant in the world and BMW the biggest car exporter in the U.S.
Enlarge image BMW plant manager Knudt Flor shows Minister Zypries the final assembly line (© BMWi) Before the factory tour, Minister Zypries met with young BMW apprentices that had finished top of their class. The tour continued into the actual production facility where large robotic arms wield car parts with precision and perform tasks like welding and assembly. Ending the tour at the final assembly lines truly showcased the out-put of this plant when every few minutes a vehicle is driven off the lines.
Enlarge image Minister Zypries and Governor McMaster (© BMWi) After the tour, Minister Zypries was greeted by the Governor of South Carolina Henry McMaster and Secretary of Commerce, Bobby Hitt. In a one hour meeting the discussed transatlantic relations and trade issues. During a TV Fox News interview after the meeting both the Minister and Governor acknowledged the strong bonds between Germany and South Carolina. German companies are the No. 1 foreign investor in the state. To date, BMW has invested over $7.8 billion in its South Carolina operations and has created 8.800 jobs. Another 35.000 jobs have been created at supplier companies. BMW does business with 270 North American and 40 South Carolina suppliers.
At a two hour working luncheon, German industry leaders and investors in South Carolina had the opportunity to discuss with the Minister and Governor the opportunities and challenges German companies enjoy in South Carolina with special focus on workers qualification and the German vocational training system.