Silver Award: 2019 Economic Development Deal Of The Year

Commerce, GA will be the home of SK Innovation’s lithium battery plant, which will build advanced batteries for hybrid and fully electric vehicles for VW and other OEMs.


Project Title: SK Innovation Lithium Battery Plant
Entered By: Jackson County (GA) Area Chamber of Commerce

Jackson County (GA) Area Chamber of Commerce has earned our Silver Award for SK Battery America’s $1.67 billion lithium SK Innovation battery plant, which is the largest job-creating initiative in the Peach State in more than a decade.

Located on 283 acres along I-85, about 65 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta inside the Commerce industrial complex, the 2.4 million-square-foot facility is SK Innovation’s first EV battery factory in the U.S. By 2025, the plant will employ nearly 2,000 with a production capacity reaching 9.8GWh by 2022.

Silver Award 2019 Deal of the Year
The SK Innovation lithium-ion battery plant in Commerce, GA (rendering, above) will manufacture advanced batteries for automakers. (Photo: SK Innovation)

SK, which makes lithium-ion batteries for hybrid and fully-electric automobiles, will build batteries for multiple vehicle manufacturers, including Volkswagen in Chattanooga, TN.

It took just three months to close the deal for this advanced battery plant—officials from South Korea-based SK Group first visited Jackson County on August 24, when the code name for the initiative was Project Hercules; the project announcement was made on Nov. 27.

In their DOTY submission, Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce cited several organizations that assisted in bringing this project to fruition: the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Jackson County Industrial Development Authority, Georgia Power, the City of Commerce and the GA Dept. of Community Affairs.


The direct economic impact of the SK Innovation plant is estimated to be more than $2.8 billion over the next five years, generating more than $429 billion in new wages during the same period.

The advanced battery plant project is expected to create more than 10,000 direct, indirect or induced jobs in the region during the next five years. Since last year’s project announcement, businesses of all types have been flocking to Commerce, GA to meet the anticipated demand for goods and services, according to Jackson County officials.

The SK Innovation project is receiving a bevy of state and local incentives, including a $5-million OneGeorgia grant that will offset the cost of site grading. Free, “pad-ready” land was a key element at the core of this deal, but other incentives were also critical to the deal’s success. The value of the land made available to SK was estimated at $24.5 million.

Board members from the Jackson County Industrial Development Authority (JCIDA) provided their expertise in structuring the deal, and they were especially critical in determining how to cover the costs of the incentive that had to be paid immediately and would not be recovered with future revenue. The local incentives are mostly covered using revenue generated by the project in the form of PILOT payments.

The JCIDA provided a $140,000 cash advance before the deal was signed so work on the project could be started immediately. JCIDA also paid $114,000 for temporary office space for SK Battery and waived their bond issuance fee of $80,000. Other incentives included a 20-year tax abatement valued at $104 million and a $1-million Education Matching Grant (all contributions made to local education by SK are matched up to $50,000 per year for 20 years).


  • 8,452 direct and indirect new jobs during the next five years.
  • New wages estimated to total more than $429 million over next five years.
  • Direct economic impact for the region of $2.8 billion over five years.

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