Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday announced Hyundai Motor Group's plans to make a $5.5 billion investment to build an electric vehicle plant and battery manufacturing facility near Savannah, which he says is the largest economic development project in the state's history.
"We're very excited – it's massive," Kemp told FOX Business, saying that the project is expected to bring more than 8,100 jobs to Georgia's coastal region.
Kemp was joined by Hyundai President and CEO Jaehoon Chang and other executives of the South Korean automaker at a signing ceremony Friday afternoon in Bryan County, where the plant will be located on a 2,923-acre mega site purchased by the state in conjunction with the local four-county economic development authority.
Hyundai, which also owns Kia, announced last year that it would invest more than $7 billion in the U.S. by 2025, and reports that Georgia would be the site of the major project for the company have been circulating for some time. Last week, a U.S. official speaking on the condition of anonymity said the announcement would likely happen during President Biden's visit to South Korea on May 20-21.
Kemp said his office has had no communication with the White House, and that the Georgia deal has been in the works for several months.
"Obviously, it was a competitive project with several other states that ended up being on the short list," the governor said. "This deal has been solidified for weeks now, and we're just getting to the point where the company is comfortable announcing it."
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Hyundai said in press release announcing the Georgia project that "the investment was in line with the U.S. government's roadmap to accelerate electrification," pointing to the Biden administration's goal that EVs will account for 50% of all new cars sold in the U.S. by the end of the decade.
"With the additional EV and battery production capabilities in the U.S.," Hyundai's statement reads, the company "aims to become one of the top three EV providers in the U.S. by 2026."
The Hyundai plant is the second huge electric vehicle plant announced for Georgia in less than a year after Rivian Automotive unveiled plans in December to build a $5 billion plant outside Atlanta that is expected to employ 7,500. That deal was previously the largest in state history, and involved $1.5 billion in incentives provided by state and local government.
The timing of the Hyundai announcement could also serve as a boost to Kemp ahead of Tuesday's primary election, where he faces challenges from multiple fellow Republicans, including former Sen. David Perdue.
Perdue opposes the Rivian deal and says many residents surrounding that site do not want a mega-facility as a neighbor.
In response to the criticisms, Kemp said, "I ran on creating jobs in rural Georgia, and that's exactly what we're doing with the Rivian plant, and that's exactly what we're doing with Hyundai."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.