Two South Korean tech industry giants came to an agreement over the weekend that could mean huge economic growth for Jackson County.

SK Innovation and LG Energy Solution reached a $1.8 billion global settlement of a trade secrets case, allowing construction of the new $2.6 billion electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant in Commerce to continue.

SK Battery America is currently under construction on Steve Reynolds Industrial Parkway, about 70 miles northeast of Atlanta. SK Innovation has committed to investing $2.6 billion into the site. (Graphic/Jessica Green)

This agreement came after a ruling from the International Trade Commission siding with LG Energy Solution in the intellectual property case against SK Innovation. Without the settlement, this decision would have meant the closure of the SK Battery America plant at the cost of the clean energy technology industry and thousands of jobs in Jackson County.

“Georgia is now positioned to be not just a national leader but a global leader in the production of clean energy technology,” said Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) in a press conference Monday morning.

Ossoff said with such a tight deadline, he and his team didn’t want to rely solely on a veto of the ITC ruling from President Joe Biden. His team partnered with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to negotiate a settlement between the two companies.

“This is a great week for Georgia,” said Ossoff. “I got involved in these negotiations because 2,600 Georgia jobs were at stake. Billions of dollars of investment in our state were at stake. And our state’s leadership as a producer of clean energy technology batteries for electric vehicles were at stake.”

John Scott, the director of economic development for Jackson County, said this deal has already made a major economic impact, and he anticipates more suppliers relocating to the area soon.

“This is a very positive project. The future of the automotive industry is changing very, very rapidly,” said Scott. “Having this large of a project right here in Jackson County, this close to Atlanta, it really puts the entire region on the map for the future of the automotive industry.”

CEO of LG Energy Solution, Jong Hyun Kim, and CEO of SK Innovation, Jun Kim, said in a joint statement Sunday morning, “We are dedicated to work together to support the Biden Administration’s climate agenda and to develop a robust U.S. supply chain.” 

Biden called this settlement agreement, “a win for American workers and the American auto industry,” in a statement Sunday.

The Biden Administration is set to announce a new infrastructure bill called the American Jobs Plan on Wednesday. The proposal is a roughly $2 trillion plan for improving the country’s infrastructure and transitioning to green energy technology over the next eight years.

“The President’s proposal for this infrastructure bill includes huge investments in electric vehicle production technology, battery technology and electric vehicle charging stations across the country,” said Ossoff. “Those charging stations are now going to be charging batteries made in America, and made in Georgia.”

Jessica Green is a senior majoring in journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

 

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