CEO: Battery maker Forge already hiring for new NC factory

After Forge Nano announced Tuesday that its new offshoot wants to create 200 jobs in Morrisville for a new lithium-ion battery plant, the CEO said hiring has already begun.

CEO Paul Lichty said Morrisville came out of a national search – and the clinchers were the local talent pool, the building itself and the region’s livability.

“We want to build a factory in a place where people want to live,” he said. “Morrisville definitely fits that bill. It’s got great culture, great resources – it’s more than just a factory out in the middle of nowhere.” Triangle Business Journal

How population and job growth is impacting Atlanta, as migration continues to favor the Sunbelt

Several trends at play right now in the metro Atlanta are shaping the city’s present and future. Among them? Continued growth, both in population and in jobs.

Population growth has become a competitive advantage for Atlanta, as migration continues to favor the Sunbelt, according to JLL research. The U.S. population grew by 0.4% in 2022, driven mainly by positive net international migration.

Sunbelt markets have become increasingly attractive in recent years, as evidenced by the relative strength of their population growth. In 2022, Georgia was ranked No. 4 for population growth in the country, increasing at a rate that was double the prior year and benefitting from positive in-migration from home and abroad.

As the workforce ages and birth rates slow, competition from an ever-shrinking talent pool will continue to be fierce, and population growth will remain a critical advantage. Georgia’s homegrown talent, nurtured by the state’s extensive higher education network and coupled with strong in-migration, makes for a potent combination. Businesses follow the talent, and the talent is here.

According to JLL research, Atlanta ranks No. 7 across the U.S. when it comes to jobs growth led by office-using occupations. Atlanta added 237,200 jobs in the last two years, an 8.4% gain overall, with all sectors recording growth. Atlanta Business Chronicle

Study: Hyundai plant brings jobs and labor worries for Savannah

SAVANNAH — Every drive past the under-construction Hyundai electric vehicle factory makes Trip Tollison equal parts excited and nervous.

Excited because the Hyundai Metaplant, the largest economic development project in Georgia history, and its suppliers will add an estimated 15,000 jobs to the region.

Nervous because Savannah and the surrounding area don’t have 15,000 workers to spare.

Tollison heads the Savannah Joint Development Authority (JDA), a coalition of four county economic development authorities and the group that partnered with the state to woo Hyundai to the nearly 3,000-acre site along Interstate 16 near Ellabell, about 30 miles west of Savannah. Not long after Hyundai signed on to build the electric vehicle and battery plant in May 2022 did Tollison — along with many other area government, business and educational officials — begin to express concerns about the Metaplant’s impact on the local labor force. Atlanta Journal Constitution

Hyundai to raise wages 25%, hoping to head off union efforts

Hyundai Motor Group said Monday it will hike wages for its U.S. manufacturing workers, the third non-union competitor to raise pay in the wake of last month’s landmark union deal with the “Big Three” Detroit automakers.

The South Korea-based company, which said it is investing $12.6 billion to build vehicle and battery plants in Georgia, announced a new wage structure Monday that will mean a 25% wage hike in the next four years.

The bump in pay will apply in Hyundai’s Bryan County plant, which is scheduled to start production in early 2025, the first of the company’s facilities dedicated to making electric vehicles. The pay hike also applies to Hyundai’s plant in Montgomery, Alabama, which has been churning out vehicles since 2005.

Hyundai’s Kia subsidiary has been making vehicles in West Point since November 2009. Monday’s announcement did not include that facility, which has about 2,700 employees, according to state officials.

Hyundai follows Toyota and Honda, which also announced wage hikes in the weeks after the United Auto Workers reached historic agreements with General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, the parent of Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep. American workers at Hyundai, like those at Honda and Toyota, are not represented by unions. Atlanta Journal Constitution

Hyundai Motor America to Raise Alabama, Georgia Employees’ Hourly Wages

Hyundai Motor America will raise certain U.S. employees’ hourly wages next year.

The auto manufacturer said the new wage structure starting in January for its production team members at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama and Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America in Georgia will result in hourly wages increasing 25% by 2028.

There are about 4,000 production team members at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, the company said.

The pending changes come as other automakers have boosted pay following recent labor strikes. The Wall Street Journal

SK Battery to furlough workers at Jackson County, Ga. plant, cut production

SK Battery America will furlough many of the workers at its massive Jackson County plant as part of efforts to cut production to match the sagging demand for electric vehicles, company officials confirmed Friday.

The move is temporary and will not shut down the huge plant, according to a spokesman for the South Korea-owned company.

“SK Battery America will not be stopping production,” said Joe Guy Collier. “We made the decision as a part of our efforts to optimize line operations and workforce management with flexibility as the EV industry is adjusting its pace of growth.

He declined to say how many people will be out of work or for how long the furlough will last.

However, the long-term market for electric vehicles and the batteries that will power them is not in question, and neither is the company’s much-hyped local presence, Collier said.

“SK Battery America remains committed to the Georgia site and optimistic about the long-term growth of the U.S. EV market. We believe our Georgia site will play a leading role for years to come in making batteries for American-built EVs.”

In late September, the company confirmed layoffs at the 3,000-worker plant. A few months prior to that, officials said hiring had exceeded the company’s previously stated goal of 2,600 employees. Atlanta Journal Constitution

Toyota subsidiary to expand North Georgia campus, hire 250 new workers

A subsidiary of Toyota broke ground Tuesday on a new manufacturing facility about 90 minutes northeast of downtown Atlanta, which will expand the automaker’s existing campus by 250 employees.

Toyota Industries Electric Systems North America (TIESNA), a maker of air conditioning compressors and other vehicle electronics, said it is making a $69 million investment in Pendergrass in the new facility. The Japanese company will join the existing Toyota Industries campus that’s been in the small North Georgia city since 2004. Atlanta Journal Constitution

Could Toyota build cars at massive Randolph County, N.C. battery plant?

The megasite that Toyota picked for its first U.S. battery plant originated from hopes to lure an auto manufacturer for what would be at the time North Carolina’s first vehicle assembly plant. That didn’t happen, though at an total investment the company now says will come to nearly $14 billion and employing 5,000 people, the battery plant rivals the scale of some vehicle assembly plants.

But could Toyota build vehicles at the Greensboro-Randolph site?

Toyota Battery Manufacturing North Carolina President Sean Suggs was asked at last week’s press event announcing the latest expansion if that could be possible.

It’s likely not Suggs’ immediate concern, as he has his hands full getting battery production going and ramped up. And it isn’t likely his call, as Toyota just in the United States has a corps of executives tasked with major long-term decisions, not to mention the world’s largest car maker’s C-suite in Japan.

But he didn’t precisely say no. Triad Business Journal

People are moving to these NC cities more than any others in 2023, report shows

Over the years, North Carolina has been among the fastest growing states., and according to a new report, it’s been one of the most popular states to move to in 2023. A report from moveBuddha, a relocation technology company, sheds light on which cities and states people have been moving to and away from this year. North Carolina is among the top states seeing the biggest boom in population growth. “South Carolina, North Carolina, and Montana are proven winners year after year after year — interest for moving to these states has outpaced moves out from 2020 through 2023,” the report says. “Of the most searched states with at least 10K mover queries, North Carolina, Florida, and Colorado are attracting the highest proportions of inflow in 2023.”

Asheville and Wilmington are among the top cities to move to in the U.S. Charlotte is making a post-pandemic comeback, as the most popular big city to move to in 2023, with more people moving in than out, the report says. Since 2020, more people have been relocating to southeastern states and mountains in the west, in part due to the pandemic. Charlotte Observer

Open Source: Apple RTP campus in the Triangle is ‘really slow rolling,’ Wake official says

I’m Brian Gordon, tech reporter for The News & Observer, and this is Open Source, a weekly newsletter on business, labor and technology in North Carolina. When is Apple building its $552 million campus in Research Triangle Park? For now, the world’s most valuable tech company leases offices on MetLife’s technology campus in Cary, but some time in the future, it has committed to employ at least 3,000 people at a 1-million-square-foot campus on the Wake County side of the park.

Apple is known to be secretive, and the company didn’t respond to questions about its RTP campus progress. But this week, a Wake County official familiar with the project told me they’ve been surprised how unhurried Apple and its representatives have been. “It’s really slow rolling on the applicant side,” they said. “I thought it would be much further along.” Raleigh News & Observer