SKC ex­pected to be­gin hir­ing for new plant mid-'11

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Gabriel Khouli gkhouli@cov­

SKC’s an­nounce­ment to cre­ate 120 jobs dur­ing the next decade comes as wel­come news for job­hun­gry 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 Jun 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.

File photo/ The Cov­ing­ton News

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