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Remarks by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the SK Innovation Groundbreaking Ceremony in Commerce, Georgia

AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

Thank you, Governor Kemp, for your kind introduction, and congratulations to you on this being one of the most important days in your new governorship. It is also — I might add — one of the more important days in my tenure as Commerce Secretary.

 

When I became Secretary of Commerce two years ago, groundbreaking events for new production facilities like this one was our goal. This major and exciting investment being made by SK in Georgia is evidence that our plan to make the United States the best place in the world to invest is working.

 

We are driving innovation to all parts of the United States.

 

My congratulations to Jun Kim, 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 Collins, and the fine job you have done in Washington over the past six years in promoting the economic vitality of Georgia’s Ninth Congressional District.

 

And from President Trump and all the members of his Administration, thank you, Chairman Chey and SK’s entire executive team, for your commitment to the United States, the great state of Georgia, Jackson County, and the city of Commerce.

 

Your selecting this location that is close to 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 are projected to increase to almost 4 million in 2020.

 

The automobile industry might be a mature market, but that is not the case for electric vehicles. In fact, this type of technological transformation is occurring in virtually every industrial sector.

 

You only have to look at the breadth of SK’s operations — from telecom, to semiconductors, to chemicals, and energy — to know that this global leader has embraced this new industrial dynamic. Innovative products and the processes to make those products are revitalizing the U.S. economy, which is growing faster and creating more jobs than it has in decades.

 

SK is helping the United States become a more competitive force in this fast-growing electric vehicle market. And you are doing it right here in the Peach State.

 

This nearly $1.7 billion-dollar investment by SK represents Georgia’s single largest foreign investment project ever. The 2,000 direct jobs will generate thousands of others in supply chains and services not only in Georgia but throughout the country.

 

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-rate scientific and engineering universities.

 

The state has had a long-standing commitment to higher education. Georgia was the first state in the country to charter a university. And Wesleyan College, in Macon, was the first in the world to grant degrees to women.

 

Everyone knows that high-tech production requires a high-tech workforce.

 

SK’s investment also highlights the close ties that exist between the United States and 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 sixth-largest trading partner in goods, with a total bilateral value of $131 billion in 2018. That is an all-time high.

 

South Korean firms have invested $51 billion in projects in the United States. South Korean firms support nearly 52,000 U.S. jobs. This includes at least 75 Korean facilities in Georgia alone, employing more than 10,000 citizens of your state.

 

We look forward to again welcoming members of the Georgia economic development community, as well as companies from Korea, at our yearly SelectUSA Investment Summit to be held in Washington, D.C. on June 10th through 12th.

 

Again, to the leadership of SK: Thank you for your commitment to the United States. On behalf of President Trump, congratulations to SK, the State of Georgia and the people of Jackson County.

 

It is a privilege to be here with you. Thank you.

Leadership