An estimated 2,000 jobs are coming to Jackson County as Korean car battery maker SK Innovation locates a new, $1.67 billion plant in Commerce.
The move, announced Tuesday, Nov. 27, by Gov. Nathan Deal, will add more than 2 million square feet of manufacturing space in Jackson.
The first phase of the project will begin in early 2019 and includes hiring 1,000 advanced manufacturing employees and the construction of a 1 million-square-foot facility. Another 1,000 would be hired in the second phase.
It’s the largest-ever commercial project for Jackson County, said John Scott, head of economic development for the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce.
“We’ve had some very large ones, but they’ve only been about 1,000 employees,” Scott told The Times on Tuesday. “This is quite large for us — this is 2,032 jobs that are expected to be created between now and 2025.”
A groundbreaking has been set for early 2019, he said.
The plant will be constructed at Commerce 85 Business Park, according to De’Osha Randolph, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
“SK Innovation has been actively looking for a production base to secure competitiveness in the battery business in the major global market,” said Kim Jun, chief executive of SK Innovation, in the announcement from Deal’s office. “With our business in the hub of the global auto industry, we will grow as a top player in the battery business.”
The business park that will be home to the plant is more than 330 acres and sits between Maysville and Commerce along Interstate 85. The site is about 22 miles from Gainesville and about 10 miles from the Hall County line in Gillsville.
Construction is expected to last about two years and full production is scheduled to begin in 2022.
“It will be probably about one to two years before they’re really built out, but they’ll continue expanding and investing over the next five years,” Scott said. “We anticipate them to start doing some hiring for manufacturing … probably in 2020 or 2021, but the majority of their construction is really going to start picking up in early ’22.”
SK Innovation produces lithium-ion batteries for hybrid vehicles. The company is a piece of one of South Korea’s largest corporations, SK Group, whose customers include Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai-Kia Motors, according to the announcement.
“SK Group was among the first Korean investors in Georgia, and has a longstanding history in our state,” said Pat Wilson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
Deal said the announcement represents a broader interest from Korean companies in locating sites in Georgia.
“By choosing Georgia, SK Innovation will have access to our skilled workforce and extensive manufacturing resources, while also joining a number of other Korean-affiliated companies that operate manufacturing facilities across the state,” Deal said.
International investment in North Georgia has been a recurring theme in 2018, as several German companies have announced new or expanded plants. In October, Hall County business leaders visited Germany on a trade mission.