GDEcD Applauds SK Innovation, Jackson County on Expanding Education Investment in Georgia Schools

Staff Report

Thursday, December 3rd, 2020

Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson was joined by SK Battery America President Jun-ho Hwang, Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce President Jim Shaw, and education leaders in Jackson County at the Georgia State Capitol to celebrate electric vehicle battery manufacturer SK Innovation’s continued investment in Georgia, as well as their significant donation to expanding educational opportunities in Jackson County. This donation will be matched by the Jackson County.  

At a small ceremony on Thursday, leadership from SK Innovation donated $60,000 to the Empower College and Career Center (EmpowerC3), a charter high school in Jackson County scheduled to begin operations in 2021. Jackson County will match this funding through its Education Matching Grant and donate an additional $60,000 to Commerce City Schools (CCS), where the large-scale battery facility is currently under construction. These schools will thereby receive a total of $120,000 over two years. John Uesseler, CEO of EmpowerC3, and Joy Tolbert, CCS superintendent, accepted the donations. 

“I am grateful for the numerous ways SK Innovation continues to give back and reinvest in their adopted Georgia community,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson. “In addition to leading the future of the automotive industry, SK Innovation continues to support the future of young Georgians and their education. We were proud to bring this company to Georgia, and we’re proud to continue to partner with them to keep Georgia in the driver’s seat for the next era of the auto industry.” 

“We are delighted to share ‘happiness,’ which is the utmost value pursued by SK Group, with the community and students,” said SK Battery America President Jun-ho Hwang. “We hope that this donation will be of great help in providing quality education to students of EmpowerC3 and Commerce City Schools so that they can keep up their dreams and hopes for the future, despite the challenges caused by COVID-19.”

SK Innovation and Jackson County had previously joined together in 2019 to make a similar investment in education, with SK Innovation making an initial donation of $30,000, which was then matched by Jackson County. These donations reflect SK Group’s management philosophy of pursuing the happiness of various stakeholders surrounding the company. In 1974, SK established a nonprofit foundation interested in nurturing future leaders and talent called the Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies, which has provided scholarships to about 3,500 students. 

“Empower College and Career Center, along with Jackson County Schools, greatly appreciates the partnership with SK Innovation and its financial investment in the future workforce for Jackson County,” said Empower College and Career Center CEO John Uesseler. “This donation will be directly applied to equipment, supplies and curriculum for the new Advanced Technology and Engineering program/laboratory that will be available for students who attend Empower starting in the Fall of 2021. It is through business and industry partnerships like this that make it possible to ensure that future graduates of the Jackson County community will be prepared for the jobs of tomorrow!”

“It is with great excitement that Commerce City Schools welcome our newest business partner, SK Innovation! Our system has already enjoyed working with several of the employees from SK Battery America, and we are looking forward to an ongoing partnership,” said Commerce City Schools Superintendent Joy Tolbert. “Our system is very appreciative of the recent donation from SK Battery America, which will be used to purchase curriculum and instructional materials for math classrooms in grades K-12.”   

Since SK Innovation’s initial November 2018 announcement that they would invest $1.67 billion and create 2,000 jobs at a new manufacturing facility in Jackson County, the company has continued to support the community, even extending that support statewide through a donation of $400,000 made in May 2020 to support Augusta University and Augusta University Health’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to increased customer interest in their electric vehicle batteries, in June 2020, SK Innovation announced it would invest another $940 million to expand their presence in Commerce, Georgia, with a second facility. The company broke ground on this second facility in July and expects to create 600 jobs in addition to the 2,000 long-term jobs initially announced.

Additionally, hiring for the 2,600 long-term jobs at the site has already begun, with 60 new long-term employees already working at the site. These employees include production supervisors, engineers and other specialists who are part of the initial electric vehicle battery production team. The company is planning to employ nearly 200 Georgians by the end of 2020.