By Anne Cosgrove
From the January / February 2023
The Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Joint Development Authority (Savannah JDA): A shovel-ready site and southern hospitality helped to attract Hyundai Motor Group’s $5 billion EV and battery manufacturing plant to Georgia.
In 2014, the economic development authorities in Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, and Effingham counties in Georgia came together to work on regionally significant projects — forming The Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Joint Development Authority (Savannah JDA). During the creation of the Savannah JDA, the Bryan County Megasite (BCMS), which consists of several properties owned by different landowners, was identified as an ideal location for an original equipment manufacturer (OEM).
In May 2021, Governor Brian Kemp announced the Savannah JDA would purchase the BCMS with the financial assistance from the state. One of the most challenging aspects of marketing the site had been that the property would have to be purchased from multiple landowners before a project could locate there. With the purchase of the site by the State and the Savannah JDA, this obstacle was overcome.
The Savannah JDA also completed the process of rezoning the parcels that make up the BCMS so when Hyundai Motor Group (HMG) began to consider the site it was already zoned for industrial use. In January 2022, the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) and the Savannah JDA returned a request for information (RFI) to the consultant, KPMG. Later that month, there was the first site visit. The next five months consisted of site visits, traveling to the company’s offices, and negotiations.
The Savannah JDA took the following saying to heart: “We may not win every project, but we will never lose on hospitality.” Hotel and dinner accommodations were coordinated, welcome baskets that showcased local products, and transportation routes that highlighted the communities, were all thought of in great detail. In addition, specific marketing materials were created for the company.
Two weeks before the HMG Executive Chairman visited, the team was informed it would have approximately 24 hours with him to show the BCMS site, meet with Gov. Kemp, and showcase the region. Savannah JDA partner, Georgia Power, pitched the idea of an immersion experience. Over the next two weeks, Georgia Power with the Savannah JDA’s assistance shot more than 60 video shoots that showcased the economic and cultural qualities in the region. This provided Hyundai’s executive chairman an in in-depth view of in three minutes. The team also created a quality of life magazine and a housing video.
In May 2022, Hyundai Motor Group announced that it would build its first fully dedicated electric vehicle and joint venture battery manufacturing facility at the BCMS. Hyundai Motor Group announced that it would invest $5.545 billion and deliver approximately 8,100 new jobs with an average salary of $58,105. This will provide opportunities throughout the region for those who are underemployed and will improve the balance of the regional economy. It’s anticipated that employees will be drawn from all four counties (Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, and Effingham) and in addition to people moving to the region for employment with Hyundai or the suppliers.
Another $1 billion will be invested and jobs created by non-affiliated Hyundai Motor Group suppliers.
HMG expects to be fully operations by Q1 2025.