Bainbridge, May 16, 2023— A company that’s trying to become a major American-based supplier of graphite for electric batteries announced Monday it will invest $800 million to build a factory in southwest Georgia, hiring 400 workers.
Anovion Tecnologies, based in Chicago, said it would make synthetic graphite anode in Bainbridge. Production of the key ingredient for lithium ion batteries is supposed to start in 2025.
The plant would build on Georgia’s push to recruit makers of electric vehicles and their suppliers. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said the announcement furthers his goal of making Georgia the nation’s electric mobility capital. Most battery graphite is currently made outside the United States.
Georgia economic development officials say more than 40 electric vehicle-related projects have been announced in the state since 2020, pledging $22 billion of investment and 28,000 jobs.
Anovion was created last year by combining the graphite businesses of two existing companies, Pyrotek and Amsted Graphite Materials, along with new investment from Monomyth Group, a private equity firm.
It has existing facilities in Sanborn, New York, and Clarksburg, West Virginia, and earlier announced plans to build a graphite factory near Muscle Shoals in northwest Alabama. The Georgia factory will have a capacity of 44,000 tons (40,000 metric tonnes).
Anovion won a $117 million grant under the new federal infrastructure law last year to help finance new plants including the one in Georgia, as well as improvements at existing plants.
The company would only describe planned pay levels as “competitive.”
The company was attracted by Georgia’s workforce, research universities and growing solar energy production, Anovion CEO Eric Stopka said in a statement.
“We are looking forward to providing solutions that will further secure the country’s electrified future with the support of our partners in Georgia and the federal government,” Stopka said.
Anovion executives have said they are trying to reach 150,000 tons of production in coming years, starting from almost nothing.
Synthetic graphite is made from carbon products like petroleum coke, a byproduct of oil refining, heating it up to super-high temperatures for long periods of time to refine it. Such furnaces usually require huge amounts of electricity, making power costs a key consideration in locating factories.
Anovion said it wants to become carbon neutral by using renewable energy and a more efficient furnace.
“Georgia is the ideal location for us in part because of the existing and planned proximity to low- and carbon-free energy sources to power,” Stopka said.
Anovion could claim various tax breaks including a state income tax credit allowing it to annually deduct $3,500 per job from state income taxes for five years, as long as workers make at least $31,300 a year. That could be worth $7 million. The company could also qualify for property tax breaks from Bainbridge and Decatur County, and the state will pay an undisclosed amount to train workers.
Monday’s announcement is the second big industrial win in two years for Bainbridge, located in the far southwest corner of the state. Danimer Scientific, a maker of biodegradable plastic, announced in 2021 that it would build a $700 million factory, hiring 400 employees.
“We have always known that in order to remain competitive and to grow, we needed to diversify our industry mix,” Decatur County Commission Chairman Pete Stephens said in a statement. – AP