Georgia Sets Economic Development Records

Rivian manufacturing facility. Courtesy of Georgian Department of Economic Development.

The Peach State is on a roll. Georgia recently set a nine-month record for job creation and investments with totals through the third quarter of 2022 surpassing 2021 year-end figures. Supported by the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Global Commerce division, 251 economic development projects have created more than 35,400 new jobs and $12.9 billion in investment for the state.

These numbers represent a 48 percent increase in jobs compared to three-quarters through the previous fiscal year and a 6 percent increase in jobs compared to the prior year’s overall total. There was also a 54 percent increase in total investment compared to the same period last year. Many of the gains were made in rural Georgia—nearly 78 percent of projects and investments and more than half of the jobs created are outside the 10-county metro Atlanta area.

Georgia’s electric vehicle (EV) and sustainability sector has continued to thrive. As electric vehicle automaker Rivian develops its $5 billion campus at Stanton North and an Atlanta electric vehicle service center, SK Battery America is partnering with Ascend Elements, a lithium-ion battery recycling and engineered materials startup. The companies are working together to recycle cell and module lithium-ion battery manufacturing scrap from SK’s Jackson County facility. Other wins include Ascend announcing its first commercial-scale battery recycling plant in Covington in January and Aurubis—a recycler of copper, precious metals, and non-ferrous materials—investing $340 million in a facility in Augusta. In southeast Georgia, Aspen Aerogels is locating a new 500,000-square-foot facility in Statesboro. The electrification solutions and sustainability company plans to produce PyroThin materials that provide thermal management, mechanical stability, and fire protection properties to EV battery systems.

Aurubis Richmond County rendering. Courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development.

The life sciences industry is also flourishing. In March, biotechnology company Moderna announced plans to establish a new Enterprise Solutions Hub in Atlanta. This comes on the heels of Intuitive, a pioneer in robotic-assisted surgery and leader in minimally invasive care, announcing the expansion of its Gwinnett County campus last August. These two projects represent an investment of more than 1,425 new jobs and $547.8 million.

Workforce training program Georgia Quick Start has helped secure several successes, including Pepsi Co’s expansion in DeKalb County, Remington Firearms’ research and development center in LaGrange, and Titan Steel Doors’ expansion in Hart County. These three projects account for 1,082 new jobs and $373 million in investment.

The Georgia Ports Authority’s (GPA) record-breaking numbers and ongoing growth has played a pivotal role in securing investments, including Serena & Lily’s new facility in Effingham County. GPA recently completed the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP), deepening a 40-mile stretch between the port and the Atlantic Ocean to accommodate super-sized freighters from the Panama Canal. Inland ports are also stimulating investment, including Appalachian Regional Port driving Roper Corporation’s decision to commit $118 million to expand its facilities in Walker County.

Eight cranes at Garden City Terminal. Courtesy of Georgia Ports Authority, photo by Stephen B. Morton.

Other vital assets fueling Georgia’s economic growth machine include Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the state’s extensive rail network, and 1,200 miles of highway. Maintained by the Georgia Department of Transportation, Georgia’s highway and interstate system connects companies to 80 percent of the country in two days or less of driving time. This network was integral to securing Ryder System’s new facility in Henry County that will create more than 250 new jobs.

“Our state, regional, local, and community partners make these projects possible,” says GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “We look forward to maintaining our current momentum through the end of the year, and we are excited to see what records we surpass next.”