Lordstown Ohio is set to become the home of one of the world’s largest electric vehicle battery plants. LG Chem, a South Korea-based petrochemical company, has signed with General Motors (GM) to manufacture the electric car batteries for their upcoming line of electric vehicles. LG Chem has invested $2.3 billion into this joint venture which will bring 20 new GM electric vehicles to the global market by 2023. On January 16, 2020 GM purchased a 158 acre plot of land in Lordstown, Ohio near the GM assembly plant that closed last year. With international focus shifting toward renewable energy and emission outputs to reduce global warming, GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra confirmed in a joint press conference with LG Chem Vice Chairman Shin Hak-chul that GM sees electric vehicles as the way of the future. While the closure of GM’s assembly plant in Ohio caused 1,435 hourly workers to lose their jobs, this new frontier in electric vehicles is promising more than 1,100 new Lordstown jobs. Groundbreaking on the electric battery plant is scheduled to begin summer 2020.
With the LG Chem deal in 2019, South Korea managed to surpass China and India to become the second largest Greenfield investor in the state since 2003. To date, South Korean foreign direct investment in Ohio at large has reached $2.5 billion, creating 2,337 jobs. This investment is the 5th largest Greenfield investment by South Korea anywhere in the United States since 2003. The US – Korea Free Trade Agreement signed in 2007 has served as a growth catalyst for American jobs. Since then, South Korean investment in the United States has increased by over 60% with no sign of slowing. From 2017-2018 Korea’s FDI in the United States was up 12.6% to $58.3 billion. This South Korean chemical giant and its future Lordstown employees will play an important role in producing affordable electric battery vehicle options for American and global consumers.
Charity Borg is a research intern in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a Captain in the United States Air Force and graduated from Northeastern University with a Master of Science degree in international relations in 2019