December 2023

Hyundai’s Savannah area metaplant: The Southern Automotive Corridor’s signature win to date?

For decades, the rumors that Volvo and Audi would build full assembly plants in the Southern Automotive Corridor would surface, then go away, then surface again. One rumor ended when Volvo announced it would build its first vehicle plant in the Western Hemisphere in 2015 near Charleston, S.C., in Berkeley County.

Who placed second in Volvo’s site search? Why, none other than a site near Savannah in Bryan County, Ga. Needless to say, the folks in Savannah felt that they had won the Volvo deal and were seriously bummed when they learned their place earned the bridesmaid status.

Seven years later, Hyundai showed up and announced the largest automotive project in the South’s history, a nearly $8 billion battery and assembly facility that will eventually house over 8,000 workers. Not a bad consolation prize, huh?

Hyundai broke ground on the massive plant near Savannah in October of 2022. The goal of the Korean automaker and its battery partner LG Energy is to begin production in early 2025 in order to begin capitalizing on new federal tax credits for EVs manufactured in the U.S. However, Hyundai officials have stated that production could begin as early as October of 2024.

The complex is enormous, encompassing 3,000 acres. Hyundai and LG Energy’s manufacturing process will be a blend of artificial intelligence, robotics and human labor for a “smart factory,” putting the meta into a “Metaplant.” Suppliers to Hyundai so far have made commitments for over 6,000 jobs and an additional $2.7 billion in new investments.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “The facility will feature a glass-encased conveyor belt “bridge” to transport vehicles from the factory’s paint shop over to final assembly. Jumbo Park, the plant’s head of engineering, said the elevated and lit passage will be visible from Interstate 16.

“One of the campus’ parking lots will feature a solar-panel canopy, which Park said will provide 5 percent of the factory’s electricity. The rest will be obtained through power purchase agreements, with the goal of sourcing 100 percent of the facility’s electricity from renewable sources.

“Visitors to the plant will be able to explore a greenspace at the front of the facility abutting the interstate, which officials said will be larger than Savannah’s iconic Forsyth Park, which spans more than 30 acres. The goal, Park said, is to “connect the community with the people who work in the plant.”

“For employees, on-site amenities will include restaurants, stores, a fitness center and health clinics,” Hyundai officials said.

Hyundai has not announced which models it will assemble at the Georgia plant. However, officials have said they will make electric models from the company’s three brands. Those would be Kia, Hyundai and the luxury line, Genesis. First year output is expected to be 300,000 EVs.


Georgia hits the jackpot with clean energy jobs

Georgia, with a large electric vehicle industry that is just emerging, is second only to Michigan with the number of new and expanded clean energy projects announced since August, when President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which provides incentives for clean air application in manufacturing and other industries.

Nearly 20,000 jobs are being created in Georgia in new clean energy projects, a full 10 percent of the 200,000 expected to be created since the signing of the IRA. The Democrat’s comprehensive health care and clean energy law included billions of dollars in tax credits for the private sector to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. Billions have already been gifted to those such as Hyundai, Toyota and other automakers as well, as in new hydrogen fuel projects and in carbon capture. Deals in those fields announced since the IRA was implemented are in the hundreds of billions. One of the largest clean energy projects ongoing is Hyundai and SK’s investments throughout the South, and more than $14 billion in Georgia alone.


RurAL on a winning streak, as is the rural South in general

Economic developers from rural communities in Alabama attended the RurAL Summit in November that was sponsored by the Alabama Department of Commerce. It was held at the Central Alabama Community College.

Since 2020, the state’s rural counties have attracted over $4 billion in new capital investment through a series of economic development projects expected to create more than 5,400 jobs, according to Commerce estimates.

Last year alone, new projects landing in Alabama’s “targeted,” or rural, counties will bring $1.8 billion in new investment and 1,900 jobs to communities such as Courtland, Selma, Greenville, Fayette and Cusseta.

Governor Kay Ivey, a native of Wilcox County, told the economic developers gathered at the Summit that she is committed to helping spur growth across all of Alabama, particularly in the state’s rural areas.


Who said “80 percent of all new jobs are created by existing industry?” Then, again, 100 percent of all lost jobs are created by existing industry

We have known for decades the fable that 80 percent of all new jobs are created by existing industry. It is just untrue. It is a different percentage in the South in any given year. Yet, we are quite sure that 100 percent of lost jobs are created by existing industry.

Sadly, that happened in Ardmore, Okla., in November, and residents of the city were stunned. “No one saw it coming,” said Bill Murphy, CEO of the Ardmore Development Authority, when Michelin announced it is winding down tire production at the plant that houses 1,400 workers. Michelin is Ardmore’s largest employer and a manufacturing anchor for Southern Oklahoma’s economy.

The plant, which opened in 1970, will close by the end of 2025, or sooner. Michelin officials cited changes in the passenger vehicle market, including larger tires for SUVs and new designs for electric vehicles. The company made the decision to pass on modernizing the plant for next-generation tires. The rubber-making line at the plant will continue to operate to deliver product to other Michelin tire plants in the U.S.


Ford is postponing production at second EV battery plant in Kentucky

“Originally, Ford announced two electric vehicle battery plants at the former Glendale megasite in Hardin County, Ky. The first facility is well under construction; however, the domestic automaker is postponing the second plant as it weighs the market. Officials at Ford are “slowing down” investments in electric vehicle production given the “dynamic” market of EVs at this early date of the new industry. Ford has also slowed production and future capacity at plants in Michigan to better match EV demand.


Port of Brunswick (Ga.) aims to become largest vehicle export/import port

In October, Georgia Ports Authority CEO Griff Lynch outlined the growth schedule for the Port of Brunswick as it expands to surpass the Port of Baltimore as the nation’s largest port for roll-on, roll-off cargo. The Georgia port is adding a fourth ship berth at Brunswick’s main terminal and is deepening and widening the harbor.  “We will be the No. 1 port when we stand before you at this event in 2026,” Lynch told members of the Brunswick Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce at the Jekyll Island Convention Center.


Developers granted approval for additional phases of industrial parks in Huntsville, Ala.

“The Huntsville Planning Commission granted approval for additional phases to two industrial parks in the Limestone County part of the city. Both parks are near major employers Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, Amazon, Buffalo Rock and Polaris will total more than 200 million square feet when completed. The commission granted preliminary approval of the Huntsville West Industrial Park and layout and approval of phase three of Airport Properties being developed by the Huntsville Logistics Center. Triad Properties and Fairway Investments have already started work on the first building in the Huntsville West industrial Park, a 385,000-square-foot facility that will feature 32-foot minimum clear heights, 60-foot speed bays, 84 truck docks, a 185-foot truck court with 60-foot apron, space for 198 car parking spaces and 96 trailer parking spaces.”


EV materials project lands outside the heart of the industry in the Southern Automotive Corridor

A North Carolina county on the coast has landed a major economic development project. Epsilon Advanced Materials, an India-based manufacturer of battery materials, is planning to invest roughly $650 million to build its first North American factory in Brunswick County, N.C., far outside the spine of the Southern Auto Corridor, which now is I-65 and I-75 (considering Hyundai’s metaplant near Savannah and other projects). The company could create 500 jobs over three years to produce natural and synthetic graphite anode material.


Big River Steel opens new electrical steel line at its plant in the Arkansas Delta

U.S. Steel’s Big River plant in Osceola, Ark., has opened a new electrical steel line that will position the company as a key supplier in the electric vehicle market. The new steel product is ultra-thin with all the magnetic properties needed for EVs. No electric vehicle, motor or generator today is operational without the steel grades needed to transform electrical power into usable energy.


Mercedes-Benz to expand again in Alabama and South Carolina

Mercedes-Benz has applied for tax breaks for potential projects at two U.S. plants, including its Tuscaloosa County facility and its electric delivery vans and medium-sized electric luxury transporter plant in South Carolina. Both expansions include new all-electric models. In Alabama that would be the GLC SUV, which is currently only available with a combustion engine.

In 2022, Mercedes began electric vehicle production in Vance, Ala., capping five years of activity and more than $1 billion in investments, which also added an electric battery factory in Bibb County and 1,000 more employees. The German automaker is applying for incentives available under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which has sparked billions in clean energy projects throughout the South.


Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) to invest $190 million to upgrade production line in Montgomery, Ala.

The automaker plans to retool and upgrade its manufacturing facility for the fifth-generation Santa Fe.


Toyota Boshoku America, Gov. Beshear celebrate announcement of $225 million investment in Hopkinsville, Ky.

The automotive company will bring 157 high-paying jobs to Western Kentucky.


Construction continues at Hyundai’s $7.6 billion Metaplant in Savannah, Ga.

The 2,000-worker, 2,906-acre construction site is showing signs of progress with steel frames going up for most of the buildings, with roof and wall work beginning. Hyundai defined Metaplant on the facility’s first groundbreaking anniversary — “transformative, transcending.”


Rivian confirms 2024 Georgia factory groundbreaking

Speaking at the company’s new showroom at Ponce City Market in Atlanta, Rivian announced plans to break ground on its $5 billion factory near Rutledge, Ga., early next year. The factory will produce the R2 crossover and is expected to employ 7,500 workers.


Daechang Seat Corp. announces $72.5 million manufacturing facility near Hyundai’s Metaplant near Savannah, Ga.

The company makes seat frames, and the new facility will employ 500-plus people at the Savannah Chatham Manufacturing Center, an industrial park along I-16.


North Carolina lands EV battery components plant

Epsilon Advanced Materials, an Indian manufacturer of battery materials, will invest $640 million to build a factory in Brunswick County. The company will create 500 new, well-paying jobs.


Brunswick expansion will make Georgia home to the U.S.’s largest automotive port

The Port of Brunswick and other port facilities support 561,000 jobs and contribute $59 billion annually to Georgia’s gross domestic product, according to the University of Georgia.


PACCAR is expanding operations in Columbus, Miss.

The global automotive technology company is investing $209.4 million in two projects that will create 100 jobs. An industry leader in the design and manufacture of premium trucks, the company is expanding its existing facility by 50,000 square feet to add remanufacturing operations to the site.


Hwashin to build Georgia plant to supply Hyundai

The Korean auto parts and frame supplier is investing $176 million into a new plant in Dublin, which will create 460 new jobs. Hwashin has facilities globally, including its first in the U.S. in Alabama.


Hyundai Industrial Co., Ltd., to invest $24 million in Coweta County, Ga.

The automotive parts supplier will create 100 new jobs at a new manufacturing facility near Newnan, becoming yet another part of the large network of suppliers for Hyundai and Kia since Hyundai’s Metaplant announcement.

Fall 2023

For real-time news on business, politics and economic development in the South, go to For all projects announced in the South and more, go to For more information on the automotive industry in the South, go to

Electric vehicles are reinventing the automotive supply chain

The 2023 Deloitte Automotive Supply Study expected that revenues for internal combustion engines, as we as fuel and exhaust systems are expected to decline 44 percent through 2027. Meanwhile, revenues for electric drivetrains, batteries and fuel cells are expected to rise to 245 percent. An internal combustion powertrain has about 2,000 parts. Battery electric vehicle powertrains have about 20 parts. For more information on the South’s automotive industry, go to

CNBC’s top states for business in 2023; North Carolina takes No. 1 for the second straight year

The South is slouching. For years, the CNBC “Top States for Business had 10-out-of-10 Southern states in the top 10. Not this year. North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia made up the top four best states for business. But Minnesota, Washington, Michigan and Utah also were named in the top 10 from outside the South. Texas and Florida also made the top 10 list for CNBC.

Age Demographics 2021

10,800 people per day are born in the U.S. = 3.94 million a year

10,700 people per day turn age 65 = 3.90 million per year

2,800 migrants per day enter the U.S. legally and illegally = 1.02 million a year

9,607 deaths per day in the U.S. = 3.50 million

Total: Net loss in the workforce of minus 6,707 per day = 201,000 lost workers per month = 2.40 million lost workers per year

Source: Census

Hyundai rushing to open $7.6 billion Savannah area EV plant

Korean automaker Hyundai has put construction in high gear as it tries to open the largest EV facility in the U.S. The quicker the plant can open, say officials, the more incentives the automaker can receive in federal electric vehicle incentives. Hyundai Motor Group is the parent company of Kia, which also has a plant in Georgia. Hyundai operates its other U.S. plant in Montgomery, Ala.

Hyundai pouring more cash into Alabama plant; Kia to invest $200 million to make EV SUV in Georgia; adds to Korean Automotive Corridor that started in Montgomery, Ala.

South Korean automaker Kia is investing $200 million in its West Georgia (West Point) factory to begin production of an electric-powered SUV, the EV9 large, three-row SUV. The company made the announcement in the summer quarter.

Over 40 percent of Kia vehicles sold in the U.S. are assembled at the plant near LaGrange, Ga., which is just over 80 miles from its mother ship company, Hyundai, and its plant in Montgomery, Ala.

Hyundai’s multi-billion-dollar plant being built near Savannah means the Korean automakers have established a $50 billion (or thereabouts) beachhead for manufacturing their vehicles in North America, as well as their suppliers, over a 320-mile span from Montgomery, through West Georgia to Savannah.

In October, Hyundai announced plans to invest another $290 million in upgrades for the next-generation Santa Fe SUV.

Alabama is all-in on finding 11,000 auto industry workers

There are more than 11,000 jobs in Alabama among its hundreds of auto industry suppliers and OEMs, like Toyota’s engine factory in Huntsville, down in Montgomery at Hyundai, in Tuscaloosa at the Mercedes plant and out east with Honda.

Alabama has implemented what they call the “Shift” campaign to recruit those workers. “Shift” is a campaign crafted by Birmingham-based Big Communications to reach beyond Alabama to potential workers around the South who may be seeking their first jobs, or better ones.

Startup EV maker Rivian gets go ahead in Georgia to build its $5 billion plant

The Georgia Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal contesting the legitimacy of Rivian’s expected property tax breaks for its new $5 billion EV facility in the state. Rivian first announced plans for a massive 2,000-acre, $5 billion electric vehicle plant in Georgia in December 2021. At fully operational, the complex east of Atlanta will be capable of assembling 400,000 vehicles annually.

Hyundai, LG to build $4.3 billion EV battery plant in Georgia

The electric vehicle battery plant near Savannah in Bryan County will become the second battery plant Hyundai is building in the state. The project is a part of its previously announced, $5.5 billion complex in Bryan County, which will bring 8,100 jobs.

What is expected to be the largest economic development project in North Carolina history broke ground officially on in the summer. Last year, the Vietnamese automaker announced plans to build a 7,500-job facility at the Triangle Innovation Point megasite near Moncure as part of a $4 billion investment. The company filed site plans with Chatham County that revealed the factory will be more than 2.8 million square feet with eight buildings.

Toyota invests an additional $2.1 billion in North Carolina

The automaker’s latest investment in its EV battery plant near Greensboro brings the total investment there to nearly $6 billion. The company has yet to announce employment numbers, but expects to hire a similar number to the expansion last year, which grew job numbers by about 350.

Bosch to expand in Lincolnton, N.C.

Robert Bosch Tool Corp. will invest $130 million in a major expansion of its manufacturing operations in Lincoln County, creating 404 jobs. The new positions will have minimum average wages of $53,204.

Gov. Andy Beshear tours BlueOval SK plant in Glendale, Ky.

In August the second electric vehicle battery plant broke ground at Ford and SK’s BlueOval’s battery facility in Hardin County, Ky. The $5.8 billion complex will house 5,000 workers who will produce advanced batteries for Ford and Lincoln brand electric vehicles. The megasite in Glendale had been available for more than two decades, with Hyundai checking it out among other large users more than 20 years ago. Hyundai eventually took its plant to Montgomery, Ala. The two battery plants in Kentucky will go online in 2025.

$240 million investment starts at MAGMA tech facility in Bowling Green, Ky.

O-I Glass has begun construction on a revolutionary greenfield glass facility, utilizing MAGMA technology. The technology is used for manufacturing flexible, modular glass production.

Largest project in Northeast South Carolina breaks ground

In the summer quarter, a groundbreaking ceremony was performed for AESC in Florence, S.C. The Japanese battery facility will employ over 1,000 workers at an average salary of $65,000 a year. The project, according to Florence County Economic Development CEO Gregg Robinson, AESC’s deal is one of the largest economic development deals in the county’s history. AESC will supply battery cells used in next generation electric vehicles produced by BMW near Greenville.

BMW breaks ground on new S.C. battery plant

German automaker BMW broke ground on its new high-voltage battery assembly plant in Woodruff, S.C. in the summer. The 1-milion-square-foot facility, with an investment of $700 million, will support the company’s $1 billion in investment to supply and build fully electric BMW X models at its plant in Spartanburg.

Construction pauses on $2 billion Scout Motors EV plant in South Carolina

Volkswagen, which has a plant in Chattanooga, is trying to revive a brand that many believe was the forerunner to modern-day SUV. Construction has temporarily ceased on the Scout Motors EV facility in Blythewood, S.C. is being done to give time for the company to continue clearing land and obtaining wetland permits. The finest EV model is expected to meet its planned opening in 2026. Scout and VW say 4,000 jobs will be created.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear joins Toyota Boshoku at the auto parts maker’s announcement

Toyota Boshoku announced in October that the auto parts maker is investing $225 million in Hopkinsville, which will create 157 jobs.

6K Energy to invest $166 million in battery material manufacturing plant in Jackson, Tenn.

Governor Lee announced the company will invest in a full-scale PlusCAM™ battery material manufacturing plant. With its initial investment, 6K Energy plans on expanding to $250 million in future phases. The company will also be using its $50 million U.S. Department of Energy grant for the factory.

Magna International plans $790 million, 1,300-job facility in West Tennessee

The automotive supplier will build three facilities to supply Ford’s BlueOval City. Magna International is the fourth-largest auto parts supplier in the world and the biggest in North America.

TVA will invest $15 billion to meet the region’s growth over the next three years

Tennessee-based Tennessee Valley Authority’s Board of Directors announced in late summer the utility will approve $15 billion in investments over the next three years to build additional generation and upgrade systems “to ensure the region continues to benefit from affordable, reliable power.” TVA CEO Jeff Lyash said,”It took us 90 years to build our current power system which positively changed the life of millions. In the next 30 years, we will have to double or triple the current systems at a speed unlike any other time in TVA history.”


Available workers per 100 jobs openings in the South

State              Workers

Texas                          89

Kentucky                   66

Louisiana                  60

Florida                       59

Georgia                      57

Tennessee                 56

D.C.                             55

Mississippi                55

North Carolina         55

South Carolina         53

Virginia                      51

Oklahoma                  50

Alabama                     45

Arkansas                    44

Source: SB&D and Visual Capitalist


U.S. Regional Populations 2022

Region                                  Population

South                                     128,000,0000

West                                       74,000,000

Midwest                                 69,000,000

Northeast                               57,000,000

Source: Census


Telsa breaks ground on its in-house lithium refinery near Robstown, Texas

A major investment by Tesla, the plant will produce battery-grade lithium and manufacture battery materials. The first of its kind in North America, the facility will adopt an industrial refining method using acid-free lithium routes.

America Is In A Factory Boom Again. Even A Recession May Not Bring It Down This Time

On a warm Saturday morning in July, as Kathie Leonard planned to set out on her boat for a day on the water off the coast of Maine, her phone rang. The call was from the head of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, asking if Auburn Manufacturing — the specialized textiles maker Leonard runs — would be interested in hosting “the president” in the coming week.

At first she replied, “President of what?” Leonard told CNN. Then the Maine official clarified she was referring to President Joe Biden.

“I was like, ‘Really? Is this a true call?’” Leonard said. “But I was eventually convinced and said yes, of course we’re going to do it. I mean, you don’t say no to such an opportunity.”

The following Friday at Auburn Manufacturing, located about an hour north of Portland, Biden touted the success of his economic agenda, pointing to manufacturers’ rising investments in construction projects as evidence.

In the growth of blue-collar work, Biden has much to celebrate. In July, construction spending from manufacturers rose about 71% from a year earlier, according to Commerce Department data, and manufacturers had 106,000 more employees in August compared to a year earlier, despite business surveys showing softening consumer demand. CNN

SK Battery Ushered EV Sector Into Georgia. Now It Is Cutting Some Jobs

SK Battery America in Jackson County, among the foundational manufacturers in Georgia’s electric vehicle ecosystem, is laying off workers after years of rapid expansion.

SK Battery declined to say Tuesday evening how many positions are involved, but the company has confirmed that a group of workers have been laid off in Commerce, about 70 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta, where the subsidiary of South Korea-based SK Innovation has two lithium-ion battery manufacturing facilities.

Automakers and suppliers have announced tens of billions of dollars in promised EV investment in Georgia and tens of thousands of new jobs, courted with billions in state and local government incentives. But Tuesday’s news marks what may be the Georgia EV sector’s first significant loss.

Ford Pausing Work On $3.5 Billion Michigan Electric Vehicle Battery Plant

Ford is pausing work on a new, $3.5 billion electric vehicle battery plant in Michigan, even as the transition to electric vehicles has become a major sticking point in a United Auto Workers strike against automakers Ford, GM and Stellantis.

No final decision has been made on whether the plant will, ultimately, become operational, said Ford spokesman T.R. Reid.

If completed, the plant will be located on a 950-acre site in southern Michigan near the town of Marshall. Ford’s plans were to employ 2,500 people when the plant opened for production in 2026. Ford had had announced plans for the battery factory last February. CNN

Construction Underway For All On-Site BlueOval Suppliers Near Memphis, But Mysteries Abound

Posted on September 27, 2023 by William Randle

Ford’s BlueOval City will feature at least six supplier facilities, and construction is underway on all of them, according to the Megasite Authority CEO Clay Bright.

Bright, providing a supplier park update to the wider board on Wednesday, Sept. 20, said that he is “pushing” for the suppliers to wrap up agreements and get their requests for economic incentives finalized with the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development (TNECD).

“I have no idea how long it’s going to be. I’ll tell you this, there’s six items on there,” Bright said at the meeting. “I’m pushing all these suppliers to go ahead and come to terms with the lease agreements. The PILOT program is something I keep pushing them to go to TNECD, but the onus is on them as far as getting that done.” Memphis Business Journal

Spring 2023

German automaker eyes U.S. assembly plant

According to a report in the Washington Post, Audi is considering building a U.S. factory to produce electric vehicles. In just the past three years, several automakers and battery manufacturers have announced plans to spend billions on new facilities in the Southern Automotive Corridor.


Ford and Gov. Lee celebrate historic BlueOval City in West Tennessee

In the spring quarter, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Ford Motor Company marked significant progress on construction at the historic BlueOval City complex in West Tennessee. The project is the single largest investment in Tennessee history. In 2021, Ford Motor Company and SK On committed a $5.6 billion investment to build a 3,600-acre mega-campus called BlueOval City at the Megasite of West Tennessee, where the production of Ford’s second generation electric trucks will begin in 2025. The project is expected to create 30,000 jobs in West Tennessee, anchored by Memphis, including auto parts suppliers and other support projects. The construction is expected to create 6,000 jobs.


Study projects BlueOvalSK EV battery plant will have $800 million economic impact in Kentucky

A new study conducted by the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) and Murray State University shows the potential economic impact of the BlueOval SK Battery Park on local governments in Hardin County and the surrounding region. Once at full employment in 2025, the Ford facility is estimated to have a yearly value-added impact of nearly $800 million.


Lithium-ion battery recycler opens plant in Georgia

A $50 million lithium-ion battery recycling facility is now open in Covington, a critical piece of Georgia’s growing electric vehicle supply chain. Massachusetts-based Ascend Elements currently employs 100 workers at the facility, which is near Rivian’s planned $5 billion electric vehicle plant in Social Circle, Ga. The battery recycler plans to increase its headcount to 185 by 2024, and called the project the largest of its kind in North America.


EVs in Georgia account for the majority of Georgia’s biggest deals

Electric vehicle plants like Rivian and Hyundai in Georgia make up seven of the 10 largest economic development projects as of April. The Hyundai project, worth billions, is one of the largest economic development projects announced in the South.


Toyota Boshoku to make $225 million investment in Hopkinsville, Ky.

Toyota Boshoku America Inc. (TBA) will invest more than $225 million to construct a new facility in Hopkinsville and create 157 quality jobs for Kentuckians, according to the Lane Report. The new facility will include a 365,400-square-foot building pad on 49 acres in Christian County. The plant will be the first TBA location globally to be considered a “Smart Plant.” The facility will employ innovative, cutting-edge technologies such as advanced robotics, planning and automation to streamline processes, reduce waste and enhance productivity to maximize efficiency and operations.


$1.3 billion investment announced in South Carolina

Charlotte-based Albemarle is investing at least $1.3 billion and creating more than 300 new jobs to construct a new “Mega-Flex” lithium hydroxide processing facility in Chester County, S.C. The facility will support the surging demand for electric vehicles and other energy storage applications that use lithium-ion batteries. Situated on nearly 800 acres near Richburg, Albemarle’s new “Mega-Flex” conversion facility will support the fast-growing global electric vehicle and energy storage markets. The term “Mega-Flex” refers to the facility’s ability to process diverse lithium feedstock, including lithium from recycled batteries. The new facility is expected to annually produce approximately 50,000 metric tons of battery-grade lithium hydroxide from multiple sources, with the potential to reach up to 100,000 metric tons, according to the South Carolina Department of Commerce.


Another lithium-Ion battery campus being built in South Carolina

Cirba Solutions, a comprehensive battery management and materials company, announced plans in the spring to build its newest state-of-the-art, flagship operations in Richland County, S.C. The integrated lithium-ion battery materials campus will encompass an initial investment of over $300 million and will create more than 300 new jobs. The company plans to build an approximately 400,000-square-foot, world-class lithium-ion battery recycling and materials campus that will focus on processing end-of-life hybrid and EV batteries and gigafactory scrap to extract critical materials such as nickel, cobalt and lithium.


Electric vehicle battery manufacturer expanding in Tennessee

Microvast, a maker of batteries for EVs, is investing $150 million to expand its facility in Clarksville, Tenn. The expansion will double the plant’s capacity. “Houston-based Microvast is one of several automotive companies pouring new investment into Greater Nashville and hitching the largest piece of Tennessee’s manufacturing economy to electric vehicles.” So far, Microvast has committed to close to 290 jobs at its first Clarksville factory and another 600 to 700 at a potential second factory nearby, according to the Nashville Business Journal. Microvast reported 35 percent growth in revenue from 2021 to 2022. Its backlog of orders more than tripled, to $410.5 million.


Supplier to Hyundai’s massive Georgia complex to bring new jobs

Korea-based PHA announced it will build a new plant near the Hyundai facility in Chatham County, Ga. The $67 million investment will generate more than 400 new jobs.


Tin Thanh Group to locate tire manufacturing facility in rural South Carolina; over 1,000 jobs to be created

Tin Thanh Group Americas, a tire manufacturer, announced plans to establish its first United States operations which will be in Allendale County. The company’s $68 million investment will create 1,031 new jobs. Supplying energy from reusable sources, Tin Thanh Group Americas will provide operations in recycled energy, closed industry-agriculture, recycled waste and tire leasing while serving the environment, energy, high-tech agriculture and technology markets.


Auto parts manufacturer to hire more than 119 in Salem, Va.

German auto parts manufacturer STS Group AG will establish its North American headquarters in Salem. The company announced a greenfield project in Wythe County, Va., in 2001, but has chosen to move into an existing facility near Roanoke. The investment of $39 million will create 120 jobs.


Ford’s $5.6 billion BlueOval City complex attracting suppliers far and wide in Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development reported in the spring quarter that Ford’s suppliers for its electric vehicle facility in Stanton, Tenn., (located just outside of Memphis) are considering sites in more places in the Volunteer State than West Tennessee. Supplier activity is hot on the site of the 11-million-square-foot plant shared by Ford and battery maker SK.


Another Hyundai supplier picks Georgia

A steady stream of automotive parts suppliers has announced plans to serve the gigantic Hyundai battery and vehicle plant in Bryan County, Ga. South Korea-based PHA announced in March it will invest $67 million in a new facility near the Hyundai plant. The deal will create over 400 jobs.


Alabama automotive sector continues to thrive

Alabama’s four major assembly plants continue to grow. Mazda Toyota is adding jobs in Huntsville. Hyundai (Montgomery) and Mercedes-Benz (Tuscaloosa County) continue to expand their electric vehicle lineups. And Honda plans updates on several models at its plant in Lincoln.


Tire manufacturer hiring 125 in Tennessee

Nokian Tyres is expanding its workforce in Dayton, Tenn. The project will generate 125 new jobs.


Hyundai assembles first electric vehicle at its Alabama plant

Korean automaker Hyundai rolled out its first electric vehicle at its large plant in Montgomery, Ala. The Genesis Electrified GV70 SUV was the first model to be produced. The first EV comes 10 months after Hyundai announced that it would build the Electrified GV70 SUV and a hybrid version of the Santa Fe at the Montgomery plant. Hyundai invested $300 million and added 200 jobs to install an EV line at the plant.


Supplier adds to growth list of Korean parts makers in Georgia

In the spring quarter, Georgia announced Sewon America would invest more than $300 million into a new manufacturing facility in Rincon in Effingham County, Ga. The deal will generate more than 700 jobs.


South Carolina leads nation in export of vehicle tires

Gov. Henry McMaster, the South Carolina Department of Commerce (S.C. Commerce) and the South Carolina Ports Authority (SC Ports) announced that the state’s 2022 export sales totaled $31.5 billion, up 6 percent over 2021, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The state remains the nation’s top exporter of completed passenger motor vehicles and tires.


Tuskegee, Ala., captures Korean auto supplier

Samkee Corp., a Tier 1 supplier to Hyundai’s plant in Montgomery, will open a $128 million factory in Tuskegee, its first U.S. operation. The project will create 170 new jobs.


Virginia backs out of Ford deal; project goes to Michigan

Ford Motor Co. announced it will build at $3.5 billion electric vehicle battery plant in Michigan. The plant will house about 2,500 workers. Virginia dropped out of the running for the deal in February.


Seoyon E-HWA joins list of Hyundai suppliers in Georgia

Gov. Brian Kemp announced that Seoyon E-HWA, a global auto parts supplier that manufactures both interior and exterior components, will create 740 new direct and indirect jobs and invest almost $76 million in a new manufacturing facility in Chatham County, Ga.

Winter 2023

Automakers optimistic for 2023 rebound

After the worst year of vehicle sales in more than a decade, automakers in the Southern Automotive Corridor are optimistic that 2023 will be a rebound year. Industry experts believe vehicle sales in the U.S. were near 14 million in 2022, an 8 to 9 percent drop from 2021. Parts and supply chain issues affected many automakers in 2022.

Mazda not yet at “full employment” at Alabama plant

Back in 2018, Mazda and Toyota announced a joint-venture plant in Limestone County, Ala. The plant currently houses 3,700 employees, but the two Japanese automakers are having a tough time reaching the goal of 4,000 workers as a result of thin labor pools and retention issues. Mazda makes it CX-50 crossover model at the plant and Toyota its Corolla Cross model.

Hyundai Mobis plans EV battery module plant in Montgomery, Ala.

In the fall quarter, Gov. Kay Ivey joined executives of Hyundai Mobis, one of the world’s largest auto suppliers, to announce the company’s plans to invest $205 million to open an EV battery module plant in Montgomery that will eventually employ at least 400 people. Once it reaches full production, the 450,000-square-foot facility will be able to supply over 200,000 EV batteries annually to the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) factory in Montgomery and the Kia Georgia plant in West Point, Ga.

Hyundai and SK On announce $4 billion EV battery deal in Georgia

Gov. Brian P. Kemp announced in December that Hyundai Motor Group and SK On have selected a site in Bartow County, Ga., for a new electric vehicle battery manufacturing facility that will supply Hyundai Motor Group’s plants in the U.S. One of the largest economic development projects in state history, stakeholders estimate it will create more than 3,500 new jobs through approximately $4 billion to $5 billion of investment in Bartow County. Hyundai Motor Group and SK On recently signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the partnership for a new EV battery facility in the U.S., with the details of the partnership still in development.

New supplier to Hyundai’s massive Georgia EV plant

Hyundai Mobis, one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, plans to invest $926 million in a new facility in Bryan County, Ga. The plant will help supply electric vehicle production at Hyundai’s new multi-billion-dollar, multi-thousand-job complex in Southeast Georgia. The deal will create 1,500 jobs.

Another EV battery maker announces billion-plus investment

FREYR Battery, a developer of clean, next-generation battery cell production capacity, will invest $2.57 billion into Georgia’s sustainable technology ecosystem and create 723 new jobs over the next seven years at a manufacturing facility in Coweta County.

First Georgia Hyundai supplier to build new facility in Georgia

Joon Georgia Inc., an automotive parts manufacturer, will create 630 new jobs and invest $317 million in Bulloch County. Plans for the company’s new manufacturing facility mark the first confirmed supplier for Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America in Bryan County.

Kentucky’s largest-ever economic development project going up

At the Glendale Megasite on Interstate 65 in Kentucky, Ford and its South Korean partner, SK, are building a pair of manufacturing plants that will produce batteries for Ford and Lincoln electric vehicles. Construction has been going on for quite a while now on the multi-billion-dollar project, yet, the official groundbreaking took place in December. The 2.3-square-mile campus will eventually employ 5,000 workers. 

Vietnamese electric vehicle manufacturer goes public because of new North Carolina assembly plant

VinFast, which is building a $2 billion electric vehicle and battery plant in North Carolina, has filed a registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the first formal step toward a public offering this year. The automaker became Vietnam’s first automaker in 2019.

Electric vehicle manufacturer to open facility in Oklahoma City

Following a long line of electric vehicle and battery announcements in the Southern Automotive Corridor (go to, Canoo announced in the fall it will locate an assembly facility in Oklahoma City. The project is expected to generate 500 jobs and 20,000 units by the end of 2023.

Huge deal in the South Carolina Low Country

Redwood Materials is locating its next Battery Materials Campus, in the heart of the “Battery Belt,” just outside of Charleston, S.C. The facility will be built at Camp Hall in Berkeley County. Redwood will recycle, refine and manufacture anode and cathode components on more than 600 acres, creating more than 1,500 jobs and investing $3.5 billion in the local community. The company combines recycling, refining and remanufacturing to produce and return battery materials to U.S. battery cell manufacturers used in electric vehicles.

Ultium Cells to expand Tennessee facility

Ultium Cells, a joint venture of LG Energy Solution and General Motors, will expand its Spring Hill, Tenn., battery cell manufacturing operations. The project represents a $275 million investment by Ultium Cells, which is in addition to the $2.3 billion investment announced in April 2021, and is expected to create 400 additional jobs. Once the facility is fully operational, Ultium Cells is expected to employ a workforce of 1,700 in Maury County.

Ultium Cells will increase battery cell production by more than 40 percent, from 35 gigawatt-hours to 50 GWh. The Tennessee facility will supply battery cells to General Motors’ Spring Hill assembly plant for production of the Cadillac LYRIQ, the first electric vehicle produced at the plant, and other GM Ultium Platform-based electric vehicles. Production at the 2.8-million-square-foot facility will begin in late 2023.

Tesla’s Austin factory delivers first electric semi-truck

In the winter quarter, Austin-based Tesla delivered its first electric semi-truck to its first customer, PepsiCo. The delivery is the first since Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his company would start making the trucks.

Top Automotive Deals in the South – Summer 2022

The Southern Auto Corridor’s 10 Largest New and Expanded Manufacturing and Selected Non-Manufacturing Job Announcements

Announcements Made in the Summer 2022 Quarter

1. Toyota1,000$2,500NRandolph Co., N.C.EV batteries
2. Mercedes-Benz1,000N/AETuscaloosa Co., Ala.Electric vehicles
3. Ascend Elements400$300NHopkinsville, Ky.EV parts
4. Hankook Tire397$612EClarksville, Tenn. Tires
5. Bosch350$200EAnderson, S.C.EV fuel cells
6. Eberspaecher250N/ANLouisville, Ky.Auto parts
7. ATC Drivetrain218$8NKnoxville, Tenn.Auto powertrains
8. MP Materials150N/ANFort Worth, TexasRare earth magnets
9. Nippon Denkai100$150NAugusta, Ga.EV parts
10. Shinhwa Auto42$78EAuburn, Ala.Auto parts

($Inv. = Investment in millions – N=New; E=Expansion; R=Relocation)



Top Automotive Deals in the South – Spring 2022

The Southern Auto Corridor’s 10 Largest New and Expanded Manufacturing and Selected Non-Manufacturing Job Announcements

Announcements Made in the Spring 2022 Quarter

1. Hyundai8,100$6,000NSavannah, Ga.Electric vehicles
2. Envision AESC2,000$2,000NBowling Green, Ky.EV batteries
3. Volkswagen1,000N/AEChattanooga, Tenn.Auto assembly
4. Nissan600$500ECanton, Miss.Electric vehicles
5. Nucor500N/AEMason Co., W.Va.Automotive steel
6. Schneider Electric400$100NEl Paso, TexasAuto parts
7. Volvo360$41RGreensboro, N.C.Financial services
8. Toyota220$222EHuntsville, Ala.Engines
9. Nucor200$350NLexington, N.C.Automotive steel
10. Hyundai200$300EMontgomery, Ala.Electric vehicles

($Inv. = Investment in millions – N=New; E=Expansion; R=Relocation)



Top Automotive Deals in the South – Winter 2022

The Southern Auto Corridor’s 10 Largest New and Expanded Manufacturing and Selected Non-Manufacturing Job Announcements

Announcements Made in the Winter 2022 Quarter

1. Vinfast7,500$2,000NChatham Co., N.C.Electric vehicles
2. Carvana3,500N/AEAtlanta, Ga.Used vehicles
3. Mazda Toyota1,200N/AEHuntsville, Ala.Auto assembly
4. GreenPower Motor900N/ANCharleston, W.Va.Electric buses
5. Envirotech800N/ANOsceola, Ark.Electric trucks
6. DeLorean Motor450N/ANSan Antonio, TexasHeadquarters
7. Aspen Aerogels250$300NBulloch Co., Ga.EV parts
8. Alkegen250N/ARIrving, TexasEV parts
9. Proterra200$176ESpartanburg, S.C.Electric buses
10. Arrival150$11ECharlotte, N.C.EV parts

($Inv. = Investment in millions – N=New; E=Expansion; R=Relocation)



Multiple semiconductor deals announced and rumors of others; billions being spent in the South to solve chip supply chain issues

By Michael Randle

Out of nowhere, just about every industry in the U.S. faced a chip shortage crisis in recent years, particularly the last five years. We should have known.

Beginning in the early 1990s, many U.S. and foreign-based companies outsourced semiconductor production to China, Taiwan, South Korea and Malaysia. The Japanese were already big chip producers, but back then, it was all about costs and the U.S. and Japan could not compete with China.

That was the case until Asian wages, including those in China and Malaysia, went through the roof. Because of that, in about 2009 the word “reshoring” was invented. The idea was this: U.S. wages had stagnated for years, but that was a good thing to major manufacturers. All of a sudden, a manufacturer could produce goods – in the South, anyway – for about the same costs as in China, factoring in rising wages, shipping costs and others issues surrounding making something halfway around the world for U.S. consumption.

In the mid-2000s, after manufacturers of every sector known, left the U.S. in a herd mentality to Asia and Mexico, major corporations were all for free trade. They could make stuff and pay $2-an-hour. It might not have been well-made stuff, but it was made and it was bought to be assembled right here in the USA.

It was about then that corporate minds began to wonder. Why are we producing things over there when we can make them here for about the same costs? At the center of the issue was the semiconductor industry and literally giving China a free pass on intellectual knowledge developed here in the U.S. Computer chips made in China, some as old as 10 years, were being used by American industry and amazingly, still are. Something had to change and it did.

Several multi-billion dollar projects have been announced in Texas and North Carolina in the last year are undeniably being made to counter the Asian issue and the availability of chips for every industry that uses them. Yet, when the automotive industry noticed the problem with a shortage crisis, which seemed to tip the scale.

Two big deals announced in Texas last fall will eventually come to the economy’s rescue. Texas Instruments announced it plans to invest up to $30 billion to build as many as four new semiconductor fabrication plants in Sherman, Texas. TI said it will begin construction in 2022 on the first two plants producing its 300-millimeter wafers used in everything from cars and trucks to industrial machinery. The plants could house up to 3,000 workers when complete. The other big semiconductor facility is by South Korea chip manufacturer Samsung Electronics. It will build a second chip facility in the Austin area in Taylor, Texas. The plants will house thousands of workers.

The rumors

Micron Technology is the latest high-tech giant to consider the Austin area for a multibillion-dollar manufacturing operation. According to the Austin American Statesman, the company was checking out sites near Lockhart, Texas, according to its applications for tax breaks filed with the state comptroller’s office. The investment would total at least $20 billion, but much higher from 2030 to 2040. However, Idaho-based Micron chose a site near Syracuse, N.Y. for its latest venture.

On a much bigger scale, South Korea-based Samsung, which already operates a computer chip plant in Austin and currently building another nearby in Taylor, Texas, is considering 11 new fabrication plants in Central Texas. The projects could top out at $200 billion. The potential plans are described in 11 applications Samsung has filed with the Taylor and Manor school districts seeking tax breaks for building the facilities.

North Carolina has also gotten in to the semiconductor reshoring “herd mentality” act. North Carolina-based Wolfspeed is building a $5 billion semiconductor manufacturing plant, it was announced in September. The company is a world leader in silicon carbide semiconductor manufacturing. The $5 billion being invested is the largest capital investment for an economic development project in North Carolina’s history. The project, located on a site in Siler City, N.C., near the Research Triangle, will create 1,800 new jobs.

Back in the 1990s, every state in the South clamored for semiconductor plants that represent billions in investment and house thousands of good-paying jobs. Since few media properties had websites back then, many of Southern Business & Development’s ads purchased in the print product were about how well-suited this place or that place was for semiconductor manufacturing. I think during that, the South may have landed three chip facilities.

But, by then, it was too late. We had already started the massive offshore massacre that devastated the middle-class in this country. It was the “giant sucking sound,” that Ross Perot phrased during his 1992 US presidential campaign; referring to the sound of U.S. jobs heading south for Mexico should the free-trade agreement go into effect. Mexico got our share of jobs, but China got the lion’s share.

Maybe now, too late has become very early in the reshoring of manufacturing to the U.S. It is just a matter of laws set forth by our lawmakers and how competitive we remain.

Demography has changed the economy

By Michael Randle

We have already written about the void in labor availability and we have for years. That’s been an issue for more than a decade, but it hasn’t been brought to the attention of the mainstream folks – or even some so-called experts — until recently.

Some very smart people still are not familiar with our worker shortages or the reasons behind the shortages. I was tooling around town one Saturday morning this summer, listening to NPR’s “Morning Edition,” when some Ted Talk dude was interviewed. His Ted Talk subject was about the fact that young couples are reluctant to have children because they do not believe they can afford a child. Uh, truly? That is not news, there, amigo. Ha estado sucediendo durante años!

He went on to “reveal” that the challenges in the labor department facing this country “could” have a dramatic effect on the economy as a whole, including funding of social services most of us have paid for, including Social Security and Medicare.

Really? And the Ted Talk editors approved him as a presenter? That means the Ted Talk program’s upper management – and even its editor — does not know much about the issue because it has been around for a long time in this country, most notably in the Northeast and Midwest, two regions that are losing population to the West and the South each year in herds.

So, again, we have written repeatedly about the labor situation, which is dire. Then the pandemic arrived and to the fault of no one, the nation’s economy hit rock bottom the first half of 2020 and improved slightly in the second half.

Since, it has been revived, but few are sure of where the economy is going, up or down. We are not in a recession, as some claim. We may be soon enough. But the lack of knowledge of where we are going is so disturbing if a “Ted Talk” presenter is just getting the message that was clear-as-day eight years ago.

The “New South” is a misnomer. . . the South’s economy is a monster and has been for decades

By Michael Randle

Southern Business & Development is evolving into what we think is a more enjoyable and pleasant report on business and economic development in the South (the print and online product that is the umbrella of

Our – speaking for us, not you – competitive nature of slamming other regional economies such as the Midwest and Northeast (rightly so, but so tacky and out-of-date) is over with.

My (our) insecurities of media portraying the South as a backwater place to live, work, own a business and expand to, we do not care about that anymore. Your inaccurate, decades-ago, history-based content no longer pisses us off. We know we were a single-minded duck for 100 years. But now, or for the last 40 years, the South’s economy has thrived like no other regional economy. We were a duck on the world stage. We are now a beautiful swan.

My (our) insecurities are eliminated by data that clearly shows this region is indeed the economic engine of the largest economy on earth. Anxiety, anger, depression, insecurity, a feeling of not being connected with the rest of the world is no longer an issue with us Southerners and its leaders.

The South rules economically and has for a long time. After all, based on GDP, the largest economies in the world are the U.S., China and the 15 states that make up the American South, followed by Germany and Japan.

In the early 1990s, a reporter from the San Antonio Express-News asked me if the South was the region “poised” to lead the U.S.’s economy. I answered, “Poised? Poised?? We were poised to lead the U.S. economy in the late 1970s, but it goes back much longer than that.”

Few knew it or even know it now (don’t tell that to the millions who migrate to the region). It just took us a while to get rid of our tic of being inferior economically. The tic is now gone from facing somewhat constantly the stereotyping and the innuendo that where we live. Immigrants, refugees, U.S.-based migrating folks and natives alike know this is the place to be, as do major international companies. Those that read about the history of the South in the media and believe it is even remotely the same as decades ago, have apparently not come down here to visit to behold the wonder of a region that is now so worldly.

Does the South have economic challenges? Of course it does, like every U.S. region. But the brain-drain of folks moving to the warmest and less expensive place to live, work and own a business has captured many smart people from other regions of the U.S. and the world. It is the cherished and the darling of all regions in the U.S. for foreign-based companies to locate here in this country. I mean, come on down. We need you.