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After a week of poorly kept rumors, Georgia state and local leaders officially welcomed South-Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Group to Bryan County on Friday.
The company will construct a $5.5 billion manufacturing facility on the nearly 2,300 acre Bryan County mega site, which sits adjacent to Interstate 16 near the U.S. 280 interchange.
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The site will employ 8,100 workers between an electric vehicle assembly plant and an adjacent EV battery factory, making it the largest single economic development project in Georgia history.
Greeting the crowd of about 300 people, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said the announcement marked a historic day in the state's ongoing success story.
“We've grown accustomed to making history in the number one state for business, whether it's our unprecedented 3.1% unemployment rate, our record breaking number of Georgians working right now, our record breaking trade and commerce numbers, or any other number of a host of metrics,” Kemp said making the official announcement.
“And today, we are doing it yet again.”
In 2006, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue inked a deal with Hyundai officials for a new Kia assembly plant in West Point, which helped lay the groundwork for this week’s announcement and many in between, Kemp said.
“It is clear companies recognize that in Georgia, we do not rest on our laurels, and we will always continue to work towards our future,” he said.
“And after today, no one can doubt that Georgia is not only leading the great recovery as a whole, but we're also the unrivaled leader in the nation's emerging electric mobility industry.”
Hyundai Motor Group
In a prerecorded video message, Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Euisun Chung said Friday was a momentous occasion in the history and the future of Hyundai Motor Group.
“We are incredibly proud that today we are announcing our plan to open our first dedicated full EV and battery manufacturing facility in the U.S.,” he said, adding that the U.S. has always held an important place in the group's global strategy.
“... We are proud to partner with the state of Georgia to achieve a shared goal towards electrified mobility and sustainability. We are looking forward to continuing our success story here. Let us enjoy this electrifying ride together."
Echoing Chung’s message, Hyundai Motor Company President and CEO Jaehoon "Jay" Chang told the crowd on Friday that the manufacturing facility represents a critical next step in the evolution of the Honda Motor Group.
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“When he decided to build our first fully dedicated EV plant outside of Korea, we chose the United States because America embraces changes and drives innovation,” Chang said.
As temperatures hovered around 90 degrees, Hyundai Motor President and COO José Muñoz proposed a toast to the new development. As Muñoz asked the group, 'what is the best global auto group in the world?,' a chant of "Hyundai! Hyundai! Hyundai," rang out from the crowd, champagne in hand.
State Sen. Ben Watson
State Sen. Ben Watson, who represents Bryan County, said the impact of the development stretched far beyond county lines.
“It is a big win for Bryan County, but I got reminded earlier that this is a huge win for the state of Georgia also. It is my district but it is a joint effort with Bulloch County, Effingham County, Chatham County, and especially Bryan,” he said.
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Watson said the announcement was a testament to how well the counties and state work together.
“I heard from several South Korean officials today that that was actually part of the reason that they chose our area because it was such a well oiled machine and a great package that they had put together,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock
The Savannah native U.S. Senator shared his thoughts on Twitter, saying the deal would "help bring more clean jobs to our state."
As a native Savannahian, I’m thrilled @Hyundai is opening its 1st full electric vehicle & battery facility in the U.S. in coastal GA!
Very proud to support federal investments that helped pave the way for these 8100+ jobs, & will help bring more clean jobs to our state. https://t.co/vNwcwhEPUv
— Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (@SenatorWarnock) May 20, 2022
U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter
U.S. Congressman Buddy Carter said the thousands of jobs created by the facility is a huge win not only for area residents, but Hyundai, too.
“The people who work here, they are going to just love this company. It's a great company. And this company is going to love the people of this area,” he said.
“They have made a very wise decision, they will find that the people here are dedicated hard working people, salt of the earth people. So it's just a win-win situation for everyone.”
U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff
The U.S. Senator from Georgia issued a statement on the news following the announcement, saying he credited months of work behind-the-scenes in getting this deal done for Georgians.
NEWS: Following months of behind-the-scenes work by Sen. @ossoff, Hyundai Motor Company today formally announced a historic new electric vehicle and electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant in Bryan County, Georgia, creating 8,100 jobs. pic.twitter.com/C53Rg2y5Q9
— Ossoff's Office (@SenOssoff) May 20, 2022
GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch
Friday’s announcement will also help build an already strong partnership with the Port of Savannah.
“Kia up in west central Georgia has been an amazing partner for many years now. They just celebrated 10 years in Georgia and a million cars. And so to have the Hyundai Group invest again, in Georgia speaks volumes about the relationship they have with the state, the ports and everyone else and so we're just so excited to continue to grow that partnership,” said Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch.
Katie Nussbaum is the city and county government reporter for the Savannah Morning News. Contact her at email@example.com. Twitter: KnussSMN
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Savannah, GA officials celebrate Bryan County Hyundai auto plant