BMW was a once-in-a-generation economic development package for South Carolina. Last year, Boeing opened an aircraft factory in North Charleston that the governor and others repeatedly compared to BMW. The Boeing plant was the subject of a dispute with the National Labor Relations Board, which charged that the aircraft maker was building the facility in South Carolina in retaliation over past contract disputes. The board filed a lawsuit that was later settled.
Yandle said the opportunity is there at the Boeing plant for the same kind of history-changing growth, but it will be years before the impact of that company will be known.
BMW's most important legacy may be its suppliers. About 50 plants in South Carolina provide parts to the automaker. Together they have added 16,000 jobs to the 7,000 employees that actually punch the clock at the BMW plant.
"The question is whether Boeing can build those auxiliary enterprises," Yandle said. "BMW is still making that happen. A brand new transmission plant just opened in Laurens County, and a lot of that has to do with BMW being right up the road."