Charleston van plant to initially employ 220 people

(North Charleston-AP) November 28, 2005 - Three years ago, DaimlerChrysler passed over South Carolina as a site for a $700 million plant to assemble Sprinter vans.

Monday, the automaker announced it will begin a scaled-down operation in an existing plant next year.

Officials said the company will create 220 new jobs and initially invest $35 million to retool a building owned by its Freightliner subsidiary where American LaFrance makes emergency vehicles. American LaFrance is being sold, freeing up the plant in Ladson, not far from Charleston.

Company officials say the plant could ultimately create 1,800 jobs and represent an investment of $435 million. The company says the new plant will bring North American production of the vans to 32,000 annually.

During its initial search for a plant site several years ago, DaimlerChrysler considered 64 locations nationwide for a $700 million plant to employ about 3,000. That search came down to a site near Savannah and one northwest of Charleston. The company said then that, if it were to build, it would build in Georgia.

In October 2002, then-Georgia Governor Roy Barnes announced that the plant was coming to Savannah. That announcement did not pan out.

Updated 5:15pm by Bryce Mursch