Jump-Starting Jobs

Goodwill joins corporate and government partners to train the clean-tech workforce

A training initiative is preparing the ground crew for Georgia’s electric vehicle future, while cleaner jet fuel, Atlanta’s airport, and the rearmed Georgia Air Guard are flying high.

Expanding the Impact of EVs

Goodwill of North Georgia is taking the lead on training the post-manufacturing side of the state’s charge into electric vehicles.

Companies such as Hyundai, Rivian, SK, and their suppliers have promised nearly 30,000 jobs the past five years to build EVs, batteries, and other components. The state is helping train workers for those factories. For example, Georgia Quick Start is scheduled to break ground Feb. 8 on an 89,000-square-foot training center for Hyundai Metaplant America workers.


But EVs and other clean-tech innovations also require people to install and maintain charging stations, solar panels, and heat pumps. Goodwill Industries is launching its Clean Teach Infrastructure Accelerator at the metro-area Goodwill and affiliates in Nashville, Houston, and, later this year, Detroit to help meet the need for 9 million clean energy workers over the next decade.

Goodwill Industries International President and CEO Steve Preston told a crowd of more than 100 people at Goodwill’s Decatur career center Jan. 23 that those jobs will pay 20 percent to 40 percent above the median wage, and 40 percent of jobs won’t require a college degree.

“We’re here for good jobs that are good for Georgia and that are good for the planet,” said Jenny Taylor, Goodwill of North Georgia’s vice president for career services and chief mission officer.

The initiative locally focuses on EV charger installation and maintenance. The first four-week class has 16 members, and Goodwill plans two more classes in March and April (register at careerconnector.org). In addition to training provided by ChargerHelp!, participants will receive support such as career guidance, placement, and transportation to jobs.

Accenture provided initial funding, and other corporate sponsors include Georgia Power, General Motors, and Tesla. The Atlanta Regional Commission is administering a five-year, $2 million grant from the U.S. Labor Department to sustain the Goodwill initiative with partners such as state technical colleges.

Goodwill of North Georgia CEO Keith Parker said Atlanta was chosen for the initiative not only because of Georgia’s commitment to green transportation, but also because his agency is No. 1 among the 154 Goodwill affiliates at putting people to work through its ABC approach: a job, better job, career.

“There’s this comprehensive effort,” Parker said, “starting in metro Atlanta but then making all of Georgia the leader in the country and the potential leader in the world for this clean energy effort.”

Sustainable Jet Fuel Takes Off

January was the first time in a year and a half without the announcement of an EV-related factory coming to the state, but green mobility was not idling.

On Jan. 24, LanzaJet held the grand opening of Freedom Pines Fuels, the world’s first commercial plant to process ethanol into sustainable aviation fuel to lower jets’ carbon skyprint. The facility is in Soperton, where one of LanzaJet’s founding companies, LanzaTech, opened a research site in 2014.

Suncor Energy, Mitsui, All Nippon Airways, Shell, British Airways, and Microsoft are among other LanzaJet backers.

Employing 250 people, the facility can produce 10 million gallons of aviation fuel and diesel annually. The federal government aims for 3 billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel production each year by 2030.

Hyundai, meanwhile, went to Las Vegas for the annual CES expo to promote another alternative fuel, hydrogen. The carmaker says it plans to use hydrogen-powered tractors at its EV plant in Ellabell and to help develop a hydrogen infrastructure in Georgia.

Hyundai Motor Exhibition at CES 2024 Envisions Transition to Hydrogen Energy and Software-Defined Mobility Solutions

ATL Still Flying High

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport served 11.7 percent more passengers in 2023 than in 2022. The 104.7 million people who flew through the airport marked its third-highest total, behind the pre-pandemic years of 2019 (110.5 million) and 2018 (107.4 million).

The Atlanta airport saw 775,818 takeoffs and landings, up 7.1 percent from 2022.

Aeromexico expanded the airport’s international connections Jan. 8 when it began service to Guadalajara and Monterrey, Mexico. It plans to add routes to Leon/Guanajuato, Merida, and Queretaro, Mexico, by the fall.

In mid-January, Scandinavian Airlines announced that it will begin daily flights between Atlanta and Copenhagen on June 17, the 77th international destination from Hartsfield-Jackson.

Lockheed’s Big Lift

The Georgia Air National Guard’s 165th Airlift Wing took delivery of the first of eight C-130J-30 Super Hercules transport airplanes on Jan. 22. The model replaces a 40-year-old C-130H and is 15 feet longer than the standard C-130J.

Although the 165th is based in Savannah, the new Super Hercules had a much shorter trip to enter military service: It crossed the runway at Dobbins Air Reserve Base after being built at Lockheed Martin’s Marietta plant, which has delivered more than 530 C-130J aircraft in 18 variants.

James Beard’s Honorees

Seven Georgia restaurants and their chefs are semifinalists for this year’s James Beard Awards, the equivalent of the Oscars for the restaurant world.

Up for national recognition are Atsushi Hayakawa of Atlanta’s Hayakawa for Outstanding Chef and Cooks & Soldiers in Atlanta for Outstanding Hospitality. Nominated for Best Chef: Southeast, covering Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and the Carolinas, are Pete Amadhanirundr of Puma Yu’s in Athens; and Arnaldo Castillo of Tio Lucho’s, Erika Council of Bomb Biscuit Co., Rod Lassiter and Parnass Savang of Talat Market, and Duane Nutter of Southern National, all in Atlanta.

Hayakawa was one of five Atlanta restaurants awarded a Michelin star in October, while Bomb Biscuit received Michelin’s Bib Gourmand recognition. The Michelin Guide made its Atlanta debut last year as part of the city’s push to be a foodie destination.

The James Beard Foundation will name the finalists April 3 and the winners June 10.

Comings and Goings