*This story has been updated
Samsung unveiled plans Wednesday morning to open a new appliance factory in South Carolina, a move the electronics giant said will create 954 jobs in the Palmetto State over the next three years.
At a Washington event with company executives, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross praised the company for opening the $380 million plant in Newberry County and promoted President Trump's economic agenda, which includes nudging global firms to expand their manufacturing operations on American soil.
"President Trump and the Department of Commerce will continue to support these kinds of investments," he said before news cameras at a hotel near the White House.
However, the Samsung deal was in the works before the election. The Commerce Department, meanwhile, was not directly involved in the negotiations, a department representative said.
Samsung Electronics chief executive B.K. Yoon said the new factory — scheduled to start producing washing machines and other products later this year — will allow the company to reach American consumers more quickly.
“This new investment will enable Samsung to increase the speed with which we can deliver premium home appliances that reflect the regional preferences of our fastest growing and most important consumer market,” Yoon said in a statement.
Samsung first considered setting up shop in the United States about three years ago, the company said, and started talks with South Carolina last fall. The firm said it picked Newberry County for its workforce, transportation infrastructure — the plant is 150 miles from the Port of Charleston — and “commitment to public-private partnerships.”
“It takes a top-notch workforce, strong local partners and a robust infrastructure network capable of sourcing, supplying and delivering new products to market,” Samsung Electronics America President Tim Baxter said in a statement. “We were delighted to find that South Carolina offered all three things in spades, and are eager to get to work hiring our new team.”
The company isn’t building from the ground up. Samsung will move into and renovate a Caterpillar plant that is shutting down operations at the end of July as part of a “significant global restructuring initiative,” the machinery firm said.
Samsung hopes to hire some of the 325 Caterpillar workers who will lose their jobs at the electric power generator set packaging center, a company spokesperson said.
The South Korean firm is the latest in a string of foreign companies to trumpet a job-creating development in the United States.
Japanese firm Softbank announced in December that it will open a new satellite factory in Florida and hire American machinists and engineers. Trump took credit for it. “Because of me they are doing 5,000 jobs in this country,” Trump said at the time, referencing Softbank's dealings in the United States.
And after the president slammed Toyota for opening a new plant in Mexico, the Japanese automaker — which already has plants across the country — announced in April it would invest $1.3 billion to upgrade a plant in Kentucky.
Samsung has thus far fostered a friendly relationship with Trump.
In February, after the politics site Axios reported that Samsung was considering a new U.S. facility, the president tweeted the link to the article and wrote, “Thank you, @Samsung! We would love to have you!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
Al Lanctot, executive director of the Center for International Business at the University of South Carolina, said the state “very actively” recruits foreign companies to relocate to the state and hire local workers. The South Carolina Commerce Department has offices in Shanghai and New Delhi, for example, for such purposes.
“The state wants companies that can give a balanced employment opportunity for all kinds of skill sets, leaning more into blue-collar,” Lanctot said. “It’s too early to tell if this is directly because of Donald Trump’s rhetoric. Most of these deals have been in line for a while.”