SK이노베이션이 현지 시간 19일, 미국 조지아州 잭슨카운티 커머스市(Commerce, Jackson County, GA-US)에서 전기차 배터리 생산공장 기공식을 개최했다. 이 공장은 SK이노베이션이 미국에 직접 투자하는 첫 공장으로, 완공 시 글로벌 전기차 시장 최대 격전지 중 하나인 미국 시장에서 중요한 교두보 역할을 할 것으로 기대된다.
기공식에 참석한 윌버 로스 (Wilbur Ross) 미국 상무부 장관은 “작년에 미국에서 판매 된 전기자동차는 36만대로, 이는 1년 새 80%가 증가한 수치다. 전 세계에서는 200만대가 판매됐고, 2020년에는 전기자동차의 판매가 약 4백만대로 증가할 것으로 예상된다”며 급성장하고 있는 전기차 시장에서 SK이노베이션의 투자가 미국의 경쟁력을 높이는데 기여할 것이라고 말했다.
또한 이번 조지아 배터리 공장 건설로 창출되는 일자리와 관련해, 2천여명의 직접 고용 뿐 아니라, 전국에 걸친 수 천개의 공급망과 서비스에서 만들어질 파급효과도 함께 언급했다. 윌버 장관은 조지아 주의 경제적 성공의 이유가 ‘퀵 스타트*’와 같은 교육에 대한 투자에 있음을 이야기하며, SK이노베이션이 조지아주의 청년·학생 교육에 지원한 12만 달러의 기부금이 창출해 낼 효과에 대한 기대감을 내비쳤다.
(*) 퀵스타트(Quick Start): 조지아주에서 제공하는 맞춤형 무료 인력훈련 서비스
윌버 장관은 “70년 동맹의 한국과 미국은 지금까지 긴밀한 관계를 유지해왔다. 한국은 2018년 미국의 6대 교역 상대국으로, 거래액은 1,310억 달러에 달한다. 조지아에는 총 75개의 한국 기업이 들어와 있다.”며 한국에 대한 친밀감을 드러냈다. 조지아주 역사상 최대 규모의 외국인 투자 프로젝트를 진행하는 SK이노베이션에 감사함을 전하며 트럼프 미 대통령을 대신하여 축하의 말을 건넸다.
아래는 윌버 로스 상무부 장관의 연설 전문이다.
CEO and president of SK Innovation, and Jae Won Chey Executive Vice Chairman, congratulations also to the City of Commerce and the staff of the Georgia Department of Economic Development for all the hard work required to make this day possible. Your dedication has really paid off. Welcome too to Congressman Doug Collins and the fun job you’ve done in Washington over the past six years in promoting the economic viability of Georgia’s Ninth Congressional District and from President Trump and all the members of his administration.
Thank you Chairman Kim, and SK Innovation’s entire executive team for your commitment to the United States, to the great state of Georgia and the City of Commerce. Your selecting this location that has so many great automobile producers means that you will be able to take advantage of one of the fastest growing markets for electric vehicles in the world.
Last year there were 360,000 new electric vehicles sold in the United States, an increase of 80 percent in one year. Globally last year electric vehicle sales surged to more than 2 million units, and they’re projected to increase to almost 4 million in 2020. The automobile industry itself might be a mature market but that’s not the case with the electric vehicles. In fact similar technological transformation is occurring in virtually every industry sector.
You only have to look at SK’s operations from Telecom to semiconductors, to chemicals and energy to know that this global leader has embraced the new industrial dynamic, innovative products and the processes to make these products a revitalizing the U.S. economy, which is growing faster and creating more jobs than it has in decades before. SK is helping the United States become a truly competitive factor in this fast growing electric vehicle market. And you’re doing it right here in the United States, and this nearly 1.7 billion investment by SK Innovation represents Georgia’s largest single foreign investment project ever. I congratulate you on this, while you need to find someone to step up for 2 billion, so keep that momentum going.
The 2,000 direct jobs here will generate thousands of others in supply chains and services, not only in Georgia but throughout the country. And a big reason for Georgia’s economic success is the dedication your state has shown to workforce development with programs such as Georgia quick start and to the commitment you have made to your first great scientific and engineering universities.
The state of Georgia has had a longstanding commitment to higher education. Georgia was the first state in the country to grant, to charter a public university. Wesleyan College in Macon was the first in the world to grant degrees to women.
And SK’s investment also highlights the close ties that exist between the United States and the Republic of Korea. Our two nations have been standing proudly together for nearly 70 years as unwavering friends and as loyal allies. South Korea is America’s large, 6th largest trading partner in goods, with the total bilateral value of 131 billion dollars in 2018. That’s an all time high. South Korean firms have invested 51 billion dollars in projects in the United States, and those projects support nearly 52,000 U.S. jobs. This includes at least 75 Korean facilities in Georgia alone, and those employ more than 10,000 citizens of your state. We look forward to again welcome the members of the Georgia Economic Development Community as well as companies from Korea at a yearly Select USA Investment Summit to be held in Washington D.C. on June 10th through 12th. It’s the largest foreign direct investment gathering in the country every year. And once more to the leadership of SK Innovation, thank you for your commitment to the United States. On behalf of President term congratulations to SK Innovation, the state of Georgia and the people of Jackson County and the City of Commerce. It’s a privilege to be here with you today to celebrate this wonderful event. Thank you.