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Greenville Business Magazine

The Business Narrative: A Step Forward

Oct 10, 2022 12:49PM ● By David Dykes

BMW Manufacturing Opens New Training Center

The new BMW Training Center is 68,000 square feet in size and includes an outdoor amphitheater. (Photo Credit – Fred Rollison)

BMW Manufacturing officially opened its new training center Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, with the goal of promoting creative learning, fostering innovation, and advancing technical skills in a rapidly changing automotive industry.

The $20 million, 68,000-square-foot training center features multiple classrooms for both professional development and technical training, an amphitheater, and a unique concept of outdoor meeting and workspace that includes wireless capabilities.

“This new training center will be instrumental in transforming Plant Spartanburg into a BMW iFACTORY and set new standards for flexibility, sustainability, and digitalization,” said Dr. Milan Nedeljković, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Production.

“Future leaders, innovators, and technicians will learn the concepts of future production to develop innovative solutions that will be integrated into plant operations here in Spartanburg and also in our global network.”

Company officials said the new training center continues BMW’s education strategy to inspire, build, and upskill the associate workforce.

“BMW is once again proving their unwavering commitment to our state’s biggest asset – our workforce,” said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster. “This new training facility will ensure BMW technicians are equipped with the latest automotive technology and skills to meet the demands of the company’s operations today and into the future."

Features of the New BMW Training Center

With 40 functional learning spaces, BMW’s new state-of-the-art training center will provide an innovative and creative learning environment, company officials said.

Inside are areas for hands-on vocational training – welding, metal fabrication, machine tools – as well as advanced technical training for robotics and controls, mechatronics, and automotive technology.

The training center will also be the North American training hub for all future technologies to ensure associates master state-of-the-art skills to help set new industry standards, BMW officials said.

Along with areas for professional development and leadership training, there is defined workspace for augmented and virtual reality training and for advanced manufacturing in emerging technologies such as 3D printing and laser welding.

There’s also an innovation room where associates have a safe space to think, collaborate, and create a physical representation of their ideas.

The new training center will also be the home of the BMW Scholars, Plant Spartanburg’s apprenticeship program for high school graduates pursuing an associate degree; BMW Rising Scholars, the apprenticeship program for high school seniors; Gen>NEXT, the co-operative and internship program for university students; and PACE, Professional Accelerated Cross-Functional Experience, a rotational program for professionals.

Creative Learning Environment

Bridging the gap between technical training and innovation are outdoor spaces for learning and team collaboration. Outdoor workspaces, wi-fi enabled, are available at the new training center for associates.

It’s part of the BMW Group’s ConnectedWorks initiative for flexible, individual, and sustainable working environments. 

Alongside team spaces that encourage communication and interaction, there are also spaces associates can retreat to for concentrated working, as well as areas where they can recuperate and connect. Nearby is a walking trail, where associates can refresh and reenergize themselves, BMW officials said.

Surrounding the back of the training center is a Carolina Fence, which complements BMW’s biodiversity strategy. The fence incorporates both natural and cultural elements, which have been designated as symbols of the state of South Carolina.

Some highlights include: a split rail fence, representing part of our state’s rural history from the late 1800s; South Carolina’s state flower, the yellow jessamine; blue granite, the state stone; Carolina Wren Houses, providing a habitat for the state bird to thrive; the state’s official grass, Indian Grass; and the state’s wildflower, the Goldenrod.

The Carolina Fence will be designated as a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the South Carolina Wildlife Federation.

Additionally, in the area behind the new training center, 106 trees will be planted by associates, in partnership with TreesUpstate, representing 106 years of the BMW Group.  These trees will consist of eight native species and will begin the reforestation of the area into its natural state.

Using Sustainable Method to Create Office Furniture

While clearing the land for the training center site, BMW made a special effort to save trees so they could be reclaimed and repurposed as furniture for use inside the building.

Since 1992, the BMW Group has invested nearly $12 billion in its South Carolina operations. BMW Manufacturing is the largest BMW Group plant in the world, producing more than 1,500 vehicles each day and 433,810 vehicles in 2021, a record.

The plant is an important part of BMW’s global production network and plays a critical role in meeting demand for BMW Sports Activity Vehicles in the U.S. and around the world, company officials said.

Nearly 60 percent of its vehicles are shipped to about 120 global markets, making BMW the largest automotive exporter by value in the United States for eight consecutive years.

The model portfolio includes five top-selling BMW X models, four Motorsport X models, and two plug-in hybrid electric vehicle X models.

The first-ever BMW XM, the first electrified high-performance hybrid model in the BMW M portfolio, will begin production in late 2022.

The factory has an annual production capacity of up to 450,000 vehicles and employs more than 11,000 people.   

Phenom Yachts, LLC Establishing Operations in Dorchester County

Phenom Yachts, LLC, a subsidiary of family owned and South Carolina-based Sportsman Boats Manufacturing Inc., announced plans to establish operations in Dorchester County.

The company’s $12 million investment will create 149 jobs, according to the South Carolina Department of Commerce.

Phenom Yachts designs and manufactures premium center console yachts. Officials say Phenom Yachts’ performance-stepped hulls offer superior performance for offshore fishing while maintaining a family-oriented layout.

Located at 113 Sportsman Way in Summerville, Phenom Yachts’ Dorchester County operations, which will manufacture the company’s sport yachts, are expected to begin by Jan. 1, 2023.

Those interested in joining Phenom Yachts should email resumes to the company.

The state’s Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved job development credits related to the project.

National Association of County and City Health Officials Awards Nearly $175K to Five Sites 

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), representing the country’s nearly 3,000 local health departments, awarded almost $175,000 in funding to five sites, including the University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Greenville, as part of the Harm Reduction and Primary Care Providers: Academic Detailing project. 

Through its grant funding of $35,000, the University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Greenville will leverage its network which consists of over 984 primary care providers to select 10 providers to participate in their academic detailing program.

The university will conduct a needs assessment with these providers, which will be used to inform the design of the key messages.

University officials will develop a local resource guide specific to each primary care provider’s region so that they will have the tools to appropriately care for their patients.

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Drug Overdose Deaths Statistical Report (2020), the number of opioid-involved overdose deaths in the state rose 59 percent, from 879 (2019) to 1,400 (2020).

Additionally, the total number of all drug overdoses increased by 53 percent across the state from 1,131 to 1,734 in that timespan.

South Carolina Economic Snapshot

South Carolina’s economy showed signs of growth in recent weeks, according to a monthly update of the Fifth District Economy from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

Payroll employment increased, and the unemployment rate fell. Housing market indicators were mixed.

Labor Markets:  South Carolina gained 9,600 jobs (0.4 percent), on net, in August. The most jobs were added in professional and business services (3,900 jobs), while education and health services lost the most jobs (1,000).

Since August 2021, total payroll employment increased by 86,000 jobs (4 percent), on net. Employment in the state is up 2.0 percent from before the pandemic (February 2020).

Jobs were added over the year in all industries except construction, which lost 1,100 jobs. The most jobs were added over the year in trade, transportation, and utilities (25,600 jobs).

The unemployment rate in South Carolina fell 0.1 percentage point to 3.1 percent in August and was 0.8 percentage point below its reading from August 2021. However, the South Carolina unemployment rate was 0.2 percentage point above its pre-pandemic February 2020 reading.

Housing Markets: Residential permitting activity fell 2 percent in South Carolina from July to August but was up 4.6 percent from its year-ago level.

According to CoreLogic Information Solutions, home values in South Carolina appreciated 0.7 percent in July and 22.2 percent over the year.

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