Pucks, Pluck, and EV Power

Hockey pals become rivals, and UPS and Delta Air Lines find innovative friends as Georgia drives toward an electric future.

Hyundai breaks ground on its 3,000-acre electric vehicle site as a federal grant targets the EV supply chain. Delta envisions air taxis, while UPS provides down-to-earth help to entrepreneurs. And Gladiators meet spectral rivals.

New Gladiators owners Alex Campbell and Anson Carter flank the team’s head coach and director of hocky operations, Jeff Pyle, at the sale press conference.

Georgia Ice Heating Up

The Atlanta Gladiators have opened their 20th East Coast Hockey League season with new owners and a new intrastate rival.

On Oct. 18 the ECHL officially approved the Gladiators’ purchase by majority owner Alex Campbell and minority owner Anson Carter. The seller, Virginia businessman Dan Orlich, bought the team from founder Toby Jeffreys in 2018. The terms were not announced.

Atlanta resident Carter played 11 seasons in the National Hockey League and is a hockey broadcaster for TNT.

“I’ll be actively involved to ensure that Gladiators hockey is widely accepted not only here in Atlanta, but becomes a brand known internationally in the hockey world,” Carter said during a press conference at the Gladiators’ home, Gas South Arena in Gwinnett County.

Campbell, who lives outside Jacksonville, Florida, owns Capital Staffing Solutions and a share of a minor-league baseball team in Pennsylvania.

He called metro Atlanta, which lost the NHL’s Flames (now in Calgary) and Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets), “an unbelievably huge hockey community.”

His friendship with Jacksonville Icemen owner Andy Kaufmann sparked his interest in the ECHL, which is equivalent to AA minor-league baseball.

Kaufmann and his Zawyer Sports, meanwhile, have launched the ECHL’s Savannah Ghost Pirates, who play at Enmarket Arena and offer public skating, lessons, and hockey leagues at the Savannah Civic Center.

The Ghost Pirates, an affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights, defeated the Arizona Coyotes–affiliated Gladiators, 4-1, in their first meeting Oct. 23.

Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Euisun Chung (left), Gov. Brian Kemp, and Hyundai Motor President and COO José Muñoz toast the Metaplant groundbreaking in the company of a robot, a reminder that the smart factory will rely on automation.

Charging Ahead with EVs

Hyundai celebrated the groundbreaking for its $5.54 billion, 8,100-job EV manufacturing complex in Bryan County on Oct. 25.

The ceremony eased fears that a tiff over federal tax credits would slam the brakes on the Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America project, though South Korea’s ambassador to the United States used the event to lobby for Congress to delay a domestic assembly requirement for the $7,500 credit.

The Savannah-area plant is due to go live in 2025, and Georgia Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson said it already is producing “opportunities in the EV revolution for Georgians.”

An example came on Oct. 19: a $178.2 million grant from the U.S. Energy Department for a proposed Augusta plant.

Solvay Specialty Polymers, a European conglomerate with an EV-related innovation center in Alpharetta, was one of 21 winners of grants totaling $2.8 billion to support domestic EV battery production. Solvay, which would have to match the grant, has yet to announce that it will move forward.

The Augusta plant would employ 100 people to produce polyvinylidene fluoride, known as PVDF, a coating material that extends battery life and driving range.

[Update: Solvay and Boston-based Orbia, which supplies the raw materials needed to produce PVDF, announced a joint venture Nov. 3 to invest about $670 million on top of the federal grant to build the Augusta plant. Operations should begin in 2026.]

The Energy Department says the plant could annually produce enough PVDF for more than 5 million batteries. For perspective, the Hyundai Metaplant has a target of 300,000 vehicles a year.


Easing Entry to the Supply Chain

The Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs in Atlanta is going big in providing data, services, and market access to Black-owned small businesses by partnering with Sandy Springs–based UPS.

The UPS Logistics Launchpad opened at RICE on Oct. 11. It provides a UPS Store and warehouse and fulfillment services run by UPS-owned Ware2Go. UPS supply chain and logistics experts also are on site.

“We have amazing corporations that call Atlanta home,” RICE CEO Jay Bailey said in a press release, “and the inspiration they can have on the average person who has a dream is powerful.”

Jet-setting like the Jetsons

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines is investing $60 million in California’s Joby Aviation so premium customers can fly from home to the airport as well as between airports.

Joby’s zero-emission electric aircraft takes off and lands vertically. The piloted plane can carry four passengers up to 150 miles at 200 mph, more than enough to get from, say, a vacation home in the North Georgia mountains to Hartsfield-Jackson.

Delta’s initial investment, announced Oct. 11, could grow to $200 million and buys five years of U.S. and British partnership exclusivity from the time the joint service starts. The plan is to begin in New York and Los Angeles at a date uncertain, although Joby aims to launch an independent air taxi service as early as 2024.

Sweeping Up Depot ‘Dust’

Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus has released a business memoir, Kick Up Some Dust: Lessons on Thinking Big, Giving Back, and Doing It Yourself, written with Kennesaw State history professor Catherine Lewis and published by William Morrow.

Marcus and Lewis are discussing the book at 7 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Book Festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta—one of many buildings bearing the philanthropist’s name. Tickets are $27 for the general public.

More Comings and Goings

  • NewCold, a Dutch company with North American headquarters in Chicago, announced Oct. 24 that it will spend more than $333 million to build a food distribution warehouse in McDonough. The facility will employ 170 people.
  • Walmart announced Oct. 6 that it was laying off 1,458 workers from an Atlanta fulfillment center. With increased automation, the facility will fill orders placed with third-party vendors through Walmart.com.