ELLABELL, Ga. –
Hyundai Motor Corporation confirmed Friday that the company will spend $5.5 billion on a massive electric vehicle plant near Savannah with a capacity of thousands of people — a deal the governor of Georgia called a development project. largest economic development in state history.
Hyundai Motor Group CEO Jaehoon Chang made the announcement to Governor Brian Kemp at the site of the future factory in Bryan County, where state and local officials purchased a condo with priced at $61 million last year in hopes of attracting a major producer.
“Hard-working Georgians have a chance to get a really well-paid, cutting edge manufacturing job with a great company,” Governor Brian Kemp said in an interview.
Hyundai said it will employ at least 8,100 workers at the plant near the unincorporated town of Ellabell, which will assemble electric vehicles as well as vehicle batteries. The company and state officials said they expect suppliers to invest an additional $1 billion.
“It will continue to bring wealth and opportunity to the region,” said Kemp, who predicts a ripple effect that will boost businesses from Savannah’s already booming seaport to restaurants and grocery store.
The announcement was made in the context of President Joe Biden’s visit to South Korea. He is scheduled to meet Hyundai’s CEO in Seoul on Sunday. Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, told reporters Biden “will have the opportunity to say thank you for this important investment that will happen in the United States.”
The timing is lucky for Kemp, who is being challenged by former US Senator David Perdue in the Republican primaries to be decided on Tuesday.
This is the second giant electric vehicle plant announced in Georgia in less than a year. In December, Rivian Automotive announced plans to build a $5 billion electric truck factory east of Atlanta, expected to employ about 7,500 workers.
Kemp declined to discuss in detail what incentives and tax breaks the company is offering for its headquarters in Georgia. Rivian received and packaged $1.5 billion worth of packages.
Hyundai said it plans to move quickly with construction and hopes to start production of the vehicle in 2025.
The company will build the plant on the 2,200 acres (890 hectares) that the state government and its partners bought a year ago, about 40 kilometers inland from Savannah. Bryan County and neighboring Chatham County, including Savannah, each earned $9 million against the $61 million purchase price.
The land is adjacent to Interstate 16 connecting Savannah and Macon, not far from its intersection with Interstate 95 which extends through the South China Sea. It is also close to the Port of Savannah, the fourth-busiest seaport in the United States.
Kemp predicts the Hyundai plant will become one of the biggest customers of the Port of Savannah, which has seen explosive growth in recent years.
The Hyundai Motor Group sells cars under the Hyundai and Kia brands. The Korean automaker already operates two American assembly plants in Montgomery, Alabama, and in West Point, Georgia.
Perdue planned a campaign stop in Savannah for Friday afternoon with Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and GOP vice presidential candidate. Perdue has accused Kemp of trying to buy his re-election rights with the Rivian deal and its big incentives.
Kemp dismissed the criticism, noting Perdue’s record of outsourcing jobs in the US to overseas manufacturers as company executives.
The governor said the incentives help Georgia compete for major projects with states like South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. He pointed to the Kia factory in West Point as a filling plant that filled the void when the local textile industry closed years earlier.
“You used to see old quarters that used to be ghost towns, now they are vibrant communities,” Kemp said. “These are investments where we will reap the benefits in 20 to 30 years,” he added.
AP reporters Aamer Madhani in Seoul, South Korea and Jeff Amy in Atlanta contributed to this story.