EV battery maker to host Georgia veterans at job fair Saturday

Surrounded by active military and veterans, Gov. Brian Kemp announces a new partnership with SK Battery to connect veterans with jobs on Wednesday, July 20, 2022 at the State Capitol. (Natrice Miller/natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

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Surrounded by active military and veterans, Gov. Brian Kemp announces a new partnership with SK Battery to connect veterans with jobs on Wednesday, July 20, 2022 at the State Capitol. (Natrice Miller/natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Veterans, active military members and their families can peruse jobs in electric vehicle battery production at a hiring fair this Saturday at the Georgia National Guard Armory in Gainesville.

SK Battery America, a South Korean EV battery manufacturer, will host the fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to a news release from Gov. Brian Kemp’s office. The first hour will be exclusive to current and former service members and their families.

The firm is investing nearly $2.6 billion in its Jackson County facilities. It will support electric vehicles such as the new Ford F-150 Lightning, an all-electric pickup truck, according to the news release.

Overall, veterans have a lower unemployment rate compared to the national average, said Commissioner of Veterans Service Patricia Ross, but younger veterans have nearly double the national rate.

“These are the folks that we’re trying to attract and retain here in Georgia, give them that next career, give them that great job with a tremendous company,” Ross said.

In June, the national unemployment rate among veterans was 2.7%, while the non-veteran rate was 3.6%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. SK Battery intends to hire 3,000 employees for its facility in Commerce by the end of 2023, and it has already hired 1,500, according to the news release.

Ross said there are about 700,000 veterans in Georgia, which has the fifth-largest veteran population of any state, according to the news release. She said they bring a “tremendous HR value.”

“Think about the incredible dedication that they bring to the workforce, about the skills they have, that they’ve demonstrated — not only here within the state, but nationally,” Ross said.

Georgia officials have honed in on EV manufacturing as a key tenet to economic development for the state as consumer demand has skyrocketed. Rivian plans to build a massive vehicle factory on I-20 east of Atlanta, and Hyundai will build a similar size facility west of Savannah in Bryan County.

SK Battery initially estimated it would hire 2,600 workers for the Georgia facility, but in March it said it planned to raise that number. Once complete, the SK Battery facility will annually produce enough battery cells to power 430,000 vehicles. The company has contracts with Ford and Volkswagen for its batteries from Georgia.

“I know this partnership will lead not only to more veterans hired in quality jobs but also a more successful SK Battery America,” Gov. Brian Kemp said at the news conference Wednesday.

The Georgia National Guard Armory is located at 153 Alta Vista Road Gainesville, Georgia 30501.