SKC's announcement to create 120 jobs during the next decade comes as welcome news for job-hungry residents, but the company isn't expected to begin hiring until April 2011, according to a press release from the governor's office.
The polyester film manufacturer is planning to build a $100 million, 200,000 square foot facility to produce an ethylene vinyl acetate film that will coat solar power cells.
Local officials said SKC is entering the field because it believes solar power is a growing industry that's undersupplied. The move will also help the company diversify it's domestic product line, though SKC already produces the EVA film in Korea.
Pete Marte, CEO of Hannah Solar, said he believe the solar industry is set to take off as costs of traditional electricity generation continue to increase.
"Prices were creeping for the past 20 to 30 years, but now they're going through the roof," Marte said. "We have a number of clients calling about that, asking ‘How I do avoid these peak power charges'... when the U.S. market really catches on, it's going to be crazy how much solar gets deployed in the country."
The location of SKC's latest plant is a boon to a community that's already benefited from the industry's long-standing presence. When SKC came to Newton County in 1996, the company purchased 400 acres and announced it would be making a $1.5 billion investment - the largest deal ever announced in Georgia at the time, said a former state economic development official previously. Their original manufacturing facility opened in May 1999.
Industrial Development Authority member Frank Turner Jr. said SKC paid $1.7 million in taxes last year.
"Jobs and taxes," Covington Mayor Kim Carter said simply when asked about the benefit.
"It's a money maker. The city and county will make money off this location, and the school board will make money off it," Turner said.
In addition, the county will benefit from increased sales tax because of the added jobs, and Covington will benefit from construction fees and additional utility sales. Construction jobs will be added to build the two phases of the plant and construction supplies will have to be purchased.
SKC had a ribbon cutting for a new chemical plant in May, as part of an aggressive expansion campaign called "Double SKC." That plant is producing polyurethane foam that is used as cushion for car seats and furniture and as insulation for homes, refrigerators and other appliances.
Chairman Shin Won Choi said at the time that the company was once again setting an example for the world and Consulate General Hae Jin Chun said the chemical and EVA Covington plants were the beginning of a new era for SKC. They move the company closer to fulfilling the original $1.5 billion commitment SKC made in 1996.
"Covington/Newton County is fortunate to have such a strong community partner in SKC. We have worked closely with them since their opening in 1999," Hunter Hall, president of the Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce, said in a press release. "We've enjoyed watching their growth and are pleased beyond words that they have chosen to locate their solar venture in Covington/Newton County. We look forward to a long and prosperous future with SKC as our partners."
County Chairman Kathy Morgan said the increase to the existing industry base will be a draw to future companies, and Turner said officials hope more advanced, green industries will follow.