The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] 'Samsung SDI to play vital role in accelerating Indiana's EV transition'

US state’s top policymaker vows full support for Samsung SDI-GM joint venture to generate high-paying jobs

By Byun Hye-jin

Published : July 13, 2023 - 12:00

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Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald) Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

Samsung SDI’s recent joint venture deal with General Motors to construct an electric vehicle battery cell manufacturing plant in Indiana is expected to play a pivotal role in fostering a more advanced manufacturing workforce.

“We’ve got five auto OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) (including GM and Toyota) in Indiana that give us tons of auto (workers). However, they are mostly focused on working on the production lines of internal combustion engine cars,” Indiana’s Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers told The Korea Herald in a recent phone interview. “They need to be, and can be, retrained into EV battery talents.”

Following fast-growing demand for tech talent, the Samsung SDI-GM joint venture will help accelerate the clean energy transition in the automotive industry by opening up high-paying jobs for the people in Indiana, according to Chambers.

Chambers said the state will also bolster academic partnerships between Indiana’s Ivy Tech, the largest community college network among US states, and local universities to help train talents for the EV battery manufacturing space. Ivy Tech and Purdue University last month already partnered up to open training programs in semiconductor manufacturing.

Samsung and GM’s $3 billion project will set a record for the largest job commitment in 75 years, aiming to open up some 1,700 manufacturing jobs in St. Joseph County, where the plant will be built. It is scheduled to be operational by 2026.

Under the deal, the battery maker, along with GM, will enjoy performance-based incentives from St. Joseph County, Indiana Michigan Power and the Northern Indiana Public Service Company, as well as incentives from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

“Central to these agreements is a hiring requirement. These incentives will be available only when the companies hire the targeted number of workers,” said Chambers.

“It is true that Korean battery companies are having a hard time finding tech talents with expertise in battery manufacturing despite the top-tier salary, insurance and other welfare benefits,” added Chambers. “But EV is an evolving sector ... (which will eventually) match the demand and supply of the talent required in the battery industry.”

In order to better promote hiring events in the US, Chambers stressed that Korean companies should try to work with the state governments who can effectively publicize the recruiting events and liaise with universities looking to introduce possible job opportunities to their students.

As for Samsung SDI’s first joint battery plant with Stellantis, slated to start production in 2025, Chambers vowed to support Samsung’s partner companies -- mostly based in Korea -- who will be building production bases in Indiana to supply equipment and materials needed to make the plant operational.

“Except for the administrative procedures that require the federal government’s permission, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation has control on just about everything else. It will help Korean companies efficiently build factories here and make investments,” he said.

Highlighting the official launch of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation's Seoul office on July 1, Chambers said it will bolster business ties with Korea, opening up more business opportunities ranging from energy and mobility to hard tech, advanced manufacturing and life science.

Currently, there are 14 Korean companies carrying out business in Indiana, including Samsung SDI, Jaewon Industrial, POSCO-AAPC and Daechang Seat Co.