Friday afternoon, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp joined Hyundai Motor Group President and CEO Jay Chang in Bryan County to announce plans for a multi-billion dollar electric vehicle manufacturing facility. The first of its kind, this “smart factory” will become the largest economic development endeavor in state history.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Hyundai Motor Company CEO Jaehoon “Jay” Chang sign the historic agreement to bring Hyundai’s first EV “smart plant” to Bryan County. Credit: Bobby NeSmith / Grice Connect

Packed under a tent on one of the hottest days of the season, dignitaries and elected officials from Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, and Effingham Counties joined together with hundreds of community members to witness history in the making. While the facility will be built near Ellabell on what developers are calling the Bryan County Megasite, this venture carries major implications for neighboring counties — including the projected creation of over 8,000 jobs.

“What we saw today is historic,” said Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar. “Being able to get an investment into true manufacturing jobs, utilizing green energy ideas… that’s a big deal.” McCollar is hopeful that these high-paying opportunities will benefit people throughout the region, including right here in Statesboro. “It’s like mana from heaven,” he said.

Bulloch County Commission Chairman Roy Thompson shared in the excitement, as well. “I think this really and truly means everything to the whole region, especially Bulloch County,” he said. “If a person wants to work, there will be job opportunities… good paying jobs.”

The Megasite is located off I-16 exit 143 on US Highway 280 — about 5 miles from the Bulloch County line and just over 20 miles from downtown Statesboro.

Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority (JDA)

According to their website, the Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority (JDA) includes the development authorities of Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, and Effingham Counties. Founded in 2015, the JDA combines resources to attract and facilitate regionally significant projects.

Less than one year ago, on May 25, 2021, Governor Kemp authorized the JDA to purchase the 2,284-acre Bryan County Megasite in partnership with the state of Georgia. However, development of the surrounding property began nearly a decade ago.

Development Authority of Bulloch County CEO Benji Thompson, right, represents our community as part of the Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority. Credit: Bobby NeSmith / Grice Connect

Development Authority of Bulloch County CEO Benji Thompson said the acquisition of this unique plot of land and the investment from Hyundai Motor Company will have a positive impact on all counties represented in the JDA. “When we agreed to be part of the Joint Development Authority, one of the conditions was [that] we wanted to be in a great position to attract suppliers for whatever project came to the site,” said Thompson. “[This announcement] puts Bulloch County in a great position to attract new suppliers to our jurisdiction. It will be competitive, but… we think that Bulloch County’s position… is going to be very strong. That’s an exciting part of this for us.”

Why Bryan County?

According to the US Census Bureau, Bryan County is the fastest-growing county in the state of Georgia. With a staggering 48% growth since 2010, it is also the sixth fastest-growing in the nation.

Officials from Hyundai Motor Company cited “speed-to-market, workforce, and the ability to meet the company’s carbon neutrality standards” as reasons behind their decision to build the company’s first electric vehicle plant in Georgia.

Credit: Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority

The Megasite’s proximity to I-16 and I-95, the Port of Savannah, and two Class I Georgia Central Railway facilities serves to reduce barriers to speedy operation. “[This] provides stellar access to global and domestic markets for both assembly components and finished vehicle marketing,” said Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch.

Construction of Hyundai’s new facility is slated to begin in early 2023, with the first completed vehicle rolling off the assembly line in 2025. The factory is expected to produce nearly 300,000 vehicles each year.

Photo Gallery from Friday’s event

Bobby NeSmith

Bobby NeSmith is a Bulloch County native who enjoys connecting with our community. He first discovered his love for media at Portal High School and is known for his thoughtful and engaging contributions...