The Savannah MSA’s manufacturing firms created approximately 16.5% of the area’s economic output as measured by GDP, accounting for $4.2 billion of output in 2021. As of mid-2022, the number of manufacturing establishments in the Savannah CSA was 422 firms employing 24,811 workers with average weekly wage of $1,546.
Manufacturers in the Savannah MSA gained approximately 800 workers (4.2%) during 2022. The manufacturing workforce was 18,700 at the end of 2022 and is expected to add about 800 workers in 2023. A review of recent announcements from headlining companies in the sector point toward a strong year in 2023.
Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America (HMGMA) announced the development of a $6.9 billion electric vehicle assembly and battery plant in Bryan County. The 3,000 acre site will host 16 million square feet of production facilities producing 300,000 vehicles per year and creating jobs for 8,100 workers earning annual wages of $58,105.
Employers in the supply chain for the Metaplant are expected to hire an additional 5,000 to 7,000 workers and invest an additional $1 billion in facilities. Two supply chain firms have already announced plans to create supporting manufacturing facilities in Bulloch and Bryan County employing nearly 2,000 workers. An additional $650 million is planned for investment in road and highway improvements, water and sewer infrastructure, and other utilities. A $63 million Quick Start Training Center will be constructed to train workers for the facility. The Metaplant is the first fully-dedicated electric vehicle manufacturing facility in the state and the largest economic development project in Georgia history.
Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation is the largest private employer in Savannah with a global workforce of 15,000+ workers in production, service, maintenance, engineering, and research and development. Gulfstream has continued customer support and operations expansions of over 900,000 square feet across facilities in the UK, Arizona, Georgia, West Africa, Texas, Wisconsin, and Illinois to meet the company’s increasing demand. The customer support center at the Dallas-Fort Worth Alliance Airport was officially opened, which operates on 100% renewable energy and adds approximately 200 jobs to the aviation hub. The company also announced plans for a component repair and overhaul facility to complement the new service center in Dallas and is expected to open in the first half of 2023.
Flight testing of Gulfstream’s longest-ranging G800 aircraft began in 2022, making its first international flight from Savannah to Farnborough, England and was showcased at the 2022 NBAA Aviation Convention and Exhibition along with two G700 test aircraft. Additionally, the G700 embarked on its world tour, flying to events across twenty cities and six continents. Demand for the aircraft spans across Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, India, and Africa. Sales for the G650 and G650ER fleet have exceeded expectations, and demand for the G280 and G400 aircraft have resulted in manufacturing expansions to existing facilities. In addition, Gulfstream conducted the industry’s first 100% sustainable aviation fuel flight in a G650 aircraft equipped with a Rolls-Royce BR725 engine. The fuel has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by 80%.
JCB experienced a large increase in demand in 2022, spurring a nearly 20% increase in employment to 982 workers. JCB’s world-class construction equipment is highly regarded and two of its machines were recognized as “Top 100 Products of 2022” by Construction Equipment. JCB launched several new machines this year. The Fastrac 4000 and 8000 series tractors have upgraded electronics and the HTD-5E E-Dumpster adds to the fleet of fully electric E-Tech models. JCB has a five-year apprentice program in which students learn different company roles while completing a two-year degree. To help meet its workforce needs, JCB is partnered with Savannah Tech, Georgia Southern University, and Ogeechee Tech. The Pooler facility hosts manufacturing operations and the offices of the company’s North American headquarters.
The Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) continues to work with its partners at the state and local level to attract new job opportunities and investment to Chatham County. 2022 was another
record-setting year for SEDA. SEDA helped facilitate 9,263 new job opportunities and over $6 billion in investment for the year, the highest investment announced in SEDA’s history. The Hyundai Metaplant will generate numerous new manufacturing announcements for SEDA and the JDA in 2023.
In moves that support the region’s manufacturing base, World Trade Center Savannah hosted 14 Global Education Programs with more than 830 registrants in 2022. Despite the various trade restrictions still in place, World Trade Center Savannah traveled to Ireland and hosted nine inbound delegations.
Savannah and SEDA also received notable accolades in 2022. Savannah was ranked a Top Five Industrial Market to Watch by Cushman and Wakefield. and was also ranked top 5 Logistics Leader by Business Facilities. And lastly, SEDA was awarded the 2022 McKinley “Mac” Conway Award for Excellence in Economic Development for the fourth year in a row by Site Selection magazine.
For 2023, SEDA will continue to serve the region by marketing and attracting Tier I, Tier II and Tier III HMGMA suppliers and serving the existing industries. SEDA will also continue to market the Savannah Chatham Manufacturing Center to targeted audiences, including HMGMA and Gulfstream suppliers, and partner in the construction of additional road and utility infrastructure to support the full build-out of the industrial park.
Bryan County has experienced unprecedented economic development success in 2022. The headlining development, mentioned above, was the Hyundai Motor Group announcement for north Bryan County. The announcement was the result of exceptional cooperation among the development agencies of Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, and Effingham Counties through the Savannah Harbor I-16 Corridor Joint Development Authority (JDA) along with state and utility partners.
In addition, six projects announced new locations in Bryan County, representing total investment of nearly $7 billion and over 11,000 new jobs. With one exception, these announced projects are all either manufacturing or light assembly projects. In addition to the Hyundai Metaplant, the manufacturing projects include Norma Precision, a subsidiary of Beretta that will manufacture and distribute ammunition in Interstate Centre III; Komar Brands, a distribution and light assembly center for polo products that will also be located in Interstate Centre III; Hyundai Mobis, a supplier of Hyundai that will manufacture electric vehicle power electric systems in Belfast Commerce Park in Richmond Hill; and Kiss USA, a manufacturer and distributor of cosmetic products that will purchase a building in The Cubes at Interstate Centre II for a manufacturing and distribution center.
Bulloch County manufacturing employment was approximately 2,309 in mid-2022, an 18% increase from 2021. New industrial project commitments in Bulloch County in 2022 represent 951 employees and $692 Million in private investment. Joon, Georgia announced the first Hyundai supplier location decision at the Bruce Yawn Commerce Park. Joon manufactures body parts for Hyundai and other automotive OEMs. This project has committed 630 jobs and $317 million in investment. Aspen Aerogels will locate a new manufacturing facility at Bruce Yawn Commerce Park. The facility will manufacture thermal/fire retardant blankets to surround battery compartments for the EV industry. The project represents a commitment of 250 jobs and $325 million in capital investment on 90 acres. Revalyu Resources, an environmentally friendly recycling company, will invest $50 million in a new PET plastic recycling facility in Gateway Regional Industrial Park. When fully completed the site will be capable of processing more than 200 tons per day of used plastic bottles into high quality sustainable PET polymers. This facility will employ 71 people.
Effingham County’s manufacturing employment increased 6% to 1,770 persons in 2022. Effingham County’s project inquiries and community visits remained stable in 2022, and the majority of new project activity occurred in the second half of the year following the announcement of Hyundai Motor Group Georgia in the Savannah region.
The Effingham County IDA continues to work closely with existing industries, education partners, and service providers to find solutions to workforce challenges within the region. Since the Hyundai plantannouncement, the Savannah JDA is commissioning a workforce development study and actionable plan to address specific workforce challenges that will arise over the next several years.
Liberty County manufacturers employ about 2,108 workers. This is an increase of about 120 workers representing a 6% gain over 2021. The county’s largest employer, SNF Corporation employs approximately 1,700 persons and is the second largest manufacturing employer in the seven-county Savannah combined statistical area.