Georgia records major boost thanks to foreign investment

Hyundai is doubling down on its investment in hydrogen technology, in addition to its focus on electric vehicles, as showcased at the Hyundai Motor Studio in Seoul

Hyundai is doubling down on its investment in hydrogen technology, in addition to its focus on electric vehicles, as showcased at the Hyundai Motor Studio in Seoul. The automaker’s newly established partnership with Georgia Tech, built upon its substantial investments in Georgia, is set to encompass a hydrogen research initiative.

Georgia achieved a record-breaking year in terms of business attraction, with international investments accounting for 66% of the $24 billion capital committed across 426 projects during the fiscal year that concluded on June 30.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development’s annual report revealed that foreign subsidiaries contributed 47% of the 38,400 announced jobs during the period.

The majority of the $15.6 billion in foreign capital investments were attributed to the automotive sector, driven largely by the transition to electric vehicles and the involvement of South Korean original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and parts suppliers.

In late 2022, Hyundai commenced construction on its $5.54 billion facility near Savannah, subsequently announcing a partnership with LG Energy Solution for an on-site battery plant in May. Hyundai’s Bryan County “Metaplant” has also attracted nearly $2 billion in additional supplier investments, either co-located on the 2,900-acre property or in nearby areas. In the same year, Hyundai revealed that the planned investment for a separate Cartersville electric vehicle (EV) battery plant, built in partnership with SK, would exceed $5 billion.

Overall, projects associated with Hyundai, including its suppliers, accounted for roughly half of the total investment for the fiscal year 2023. The automaker recently entered into a multi-decade collaboration with Georgia Tech, encompassing a $55 million agreement for naming rights for Bobby Dodd Stadium, now known as Bobby Dodd Stadium at Hyundai Field. This collaboration includes a hydrogen research initiative and a previously announced $120,000 scholarship fund.

Another major contributor to investments was Rivian, a California-based auto startup planning a factory near Social Circle. Their commitment of $5 billion underscores the rapid growth in the automotive sector, where job creation has quadrupled in just two years. The state highlighted an electric-mobility initiative initiated under Gov. Brian Kemp as a driving force behind such developments.

However, the state emphasised that Hyundai and Rivian were not the sole sources of dynamism. Even if these monumental investments were excluded, the state still exceeded the previous year’s record for job creation by 2,800 positions. This achievement was largely attributed to clean-energy projects initiated by foreign companies.

Norwegian firm Freyr Battery is set to establish a $2.4 billion energy storage plant in Coweta County, while Finland’s ADMARES announced a $750 million modular housing plant in Waycross. These projects positioned Norway and Finland among the top five investors in the state, trailing South Korea and outpacing traditional heavyweights like Switzerland, Japan, and the Netherlands.

Another transformative cleantech venture is the $2.5 billion Q CELLS expansion in Cartersville by South Korea’s Hanhwa, which was unveiled in January. Executives credited solar production incentives within the Inflation Reduction Act for creating an attractive national regulatory framework.

It’s important to note that the figures presented by the state’s Global Commerce division come with a caveat: while many of the announced expansion projects are in progress, most are multi-year endeavours that may not begin production until several years into the future. This means that as market conditions and company plans evolve, the actual number of jobs created and the capital invested may differ from the initial commitments. In such instances, states can utilise “clawback” provisions to reclaim some of the tax incentives based on the baseline levels of jobs and capital investment.