Korean battery-maker to build 2,000-worker Georgia plant

In this July 26, 2018 file photo, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal attends a state Republican Party unity rally, in Peachtree Corners, Ga. Georgia's governor has made good on his vow to restore a jet fuel tax cut that had been controversially killed by state GOP lawmakers irate over Delta Air Lines' decision to cut ties with the National Rifle Association. In a statement Monday, July 30, 2018, Deal ordered the collection of the state's 4 percent sales tax on jet fuel to be suspended. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)

A South Korean battery maker plans to create more than 2,000 jobs in Jackson County, Georgia east of Atlanta, according to an announcement Tuesday from the Georgia governor's office.

The company, SK innovation, develops and manufactures lithium-ion batteries for hybrid electric vehicles and has committed to investing $1.67 billion in a new factory, according to Gov. Nathan Deal.

The announcement did not include any information about incentives or subsidies given to the company as part of the bargain, but Deal said the decision by SK innovation "is an endorsement of the state's economic strategy, as well as Georgia's connections to various Korean firms."

The SK announcement comes days after General Motors said it would close five plants in the United States and Canada, shutdowns that will likely hurt a number of parts-makers, as well as the tens of thousands of workers and their communities.

However, GM said its decision was both cost-cutting and a shift away from smaller cars. The company said it wants to focus on hybrids and self-driving vehicles - in addition to the larger SUVs and trucks that have been selling well.

Currently, the only vehicle assembly plant in Georgia is operated by South Korea-based Kia.

But SK Innovation's batteries are primarily sold to Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai-Kia Motors, both of which have assembly plants in Alabama.

The plant will have an annual capacity of 9.8 gigawatt-hours of batteries. SK Innovation will begin construction of the new plant in early 2019, with production targeted for 2022, the company said in a statement.

SK Innovation, which owns South Korea's top refiner, SK Energy, and a unit of the country's No. 3 conglomerate, supplies its batteries to several global automakers, including Daimler and Hyundai Motor , but it does not have any U.S. clients.

"SK Innovation has been actively looking for a production base to secure competitiveness in the battery business in the major global market," Kim Jun, CEO of SK Innovation, said in a statement. "With our business in the hub of the global auto industry, we will grow as a top player in the battery business."

SK Innovation operates battery plants in Korea and has plans to build battery plants abroad, including in Hungary and China. In October, it said it plans to invest $355 million in a plant to produce key EV battery parts in China.

"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 and Community Development. "The more than 2,000 jobs they are creating will be supported by a highly skilled workforce, and by opening its new plant in Jackson County, SK innovation reaffirms its commitment to the people and communities of Georgia."