Gov. Kemp, Wilbur Ross to attend SK battery plant groundbreaking

Gov. Brian Kemp and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross are expected to join leaders of South Korean conglomerate SK Innovation at the company’s ground-breaking ceremony Tuesday for a nearly $1.7 billion battery factory in northeast Georgia, according to a media advisory.

SK, which makes lithium-ion batteries for hybrid and fully electric automobiles, said in November it plans to ultimately hire 2,000 workers at a site in Jackson County near Commerce, about 65 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta.

The project was first announced in November during the closing weeks of former Gov. Nathan Deal’s second term. The announcement and SK’s commencement of construction come as the U.S. under President Donald Trump has enacted tariffs on foreign automobiles and vehicle components.

In an interview in January with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SK officials said the level of investment could far exceed $1.7 billion and the company could hire potentially thousands more people than initially announced as SK aggressively ramps up to meet growing global automotive industry demands for hybrid and electric powertrains.

SK supplies batteries to Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai-Kia Motors, and last year the company won a major contract with Volkswagen AG for vehicles in the U.S. and Europe.

Automakers are forging ahead with plans to electrify more of their vehicle portfolios to comply with tougher emissions and fuel efficiency standards.