All Georgia Seems a Stage

Amid new factories for electric vehicles and clean energy, the entertainment industry is driving the development of more creative spaces.

The Qcells solar panel factory in the northwest of the state and the Hyundai electric vehicle Metaplant in southeast Georgia are drawing suppliers to build plants nearby, while soundstages and related developments are blooming across metro Atlanta and beyond.  

A Lion Roars in Douglasville 

Lionsgate Studios’ latest den will be a $200 million TV and film production facility Holder Properties is building with 12 soundstages in Douglas County. The studio behind “John Wick: Chapter 4” made official April 4 what Atlanta Business Chronicle first reported March 15.

Lionsgate Studios Atlanta is due to open late this year under a lease with Great Point Studios, a property development and management company led by former Hallmark Entertainment CEO Robert Halmi. Lionsgate and Great Point launched a production facility last year in Yonkers, New York, and are building another in Newark, New Jersey.

“This project aligns with our desire to expand the Holder Properties portfolio,” says John Holder, the chairman of the company Great Point engaged in early 2021 to serve as the developer. “We are excited about the opportunity to use our decades of experience in a new asset class and to build something that will last for decades to come.”

The Douglasville entertainment complex is adjacent to The Trails, a mixed-use development from the Foxfield Co., in an approach similar to the 217-acre, $1.3 billion expansion of Trilith Studios in Fayetteville; Assembly Atlanta, which Gray Television is opening in June at the former General Motors site in Doraville; and Patrick Millsaps’ proposed Kane Studio in Chattahoochee Hills. 

Additional production-only complexes built around soundstages in Georgia include Athens’ Athena Studios, which opened in January, and Electric Owl Studios, coming this spring east of Atlanta. 

All of those facilities serve Georgia’s tax-credit-driven TV and film industry, which spent a record $4.4 billion in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2022.  

Another Bright Light in Bartow 

Hanwha Advanced Materials Georgia announced on March 23 that it will spend $147 million to build a Cartersville facility with more than 160 jobs to support solar panel maker Qcells’ expansion into Bartow County. 

Hanwha’s plant, due to open in summer 2024, will make encapsulant film to extend the life of solar panels. As the only company making such film in the United States, it will contribute to Qcells’ effort to build a domestic solar supply chain. 

Building our cutting-edge, advanced materials in Georgia will not only create new careers in solar, but help bring more affordable, reliable clean energy to customers across the country,” says Inhwan Kim, CEO of Hanwha Advanced Materials. 

Qcells opened a solar panel factory in Dalton in 2019, announced one expansion last May, then in January unveiled a $2.5 billion growth plan that includes Cartersville. 

Latching On to Hyundai’s Metaplant 

South Korea-based PHA is the latest auto parts supplier moving into the Savannah area to be near the $5.5 billion Hyundai Metaplant America in Bryan County. 

PHA will manufacture door modules, tailgate latches, and hood latches for Hyundai’s massive electric vehicle facility. PHA plans to spend more than $67 million and create 402 jobs, according to its March 6 announcement. 

The PHA plant will be at the Savannah Chatham Manufacturing Center, where another Korean parts supplier, Seoyon E-Hwa, announced Feb. 1 that it will produce interior items such as tailgate and door trims for Hyundai EVs. 

Parts suppliers have announced nearly $1.9 billion worth of projects in southeastern Georgia in connection with Metaplant America, where production is expected in early 2025. 

A Warehouse for a Warehouse 

Sam’s Club plans to spend more than $142 million to launch a fulfillment center in Douglas County. The Lithia Springs warehouse operation, announced Feb. 27, is projected to create 600 jobs. 

“We are on a journey to transform the entire Sam’s Club supply chain through strategic expansion and cutting-edge automation,” says Joseph Godsey, the chief supply chain officer of Walmart’s warehouse-style chain. 

David Garcia, Hawks Ventures

Start-ups to Fly on Hawks’ Wings 

The Atlanta Hawks have launched a $50 million venture capital fund that primarily will invest in minority- and women-led start-ups. 

In announcing Hawks Ventures on March 16, principal team owner Tony Ressler called the fund “exactly the kind of community-enhancing effort we committed to making when we purchased the team in 2015.” 

In addition to businesses led by underrepresented groups, the fund will focus on “customer-obsessed businesses with the potential to impact or transform the way a product or service is experienced.” 

Braves Safe at Home 

Diamond Sports Group, the company scheduled to broadcast 149 of the Atlanta Braves’ 162 regular-season games, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection March 14. However, it plans to keep airing the Braves on Bally Sports South and Bally Sports Southeast, and Major League Baseball says it’s ready to take over if something goes wrong. 

Brandon Gaudin

The Bally networks also continue to carry the Atlanta Hawks games. 

The Braves have a new play-by-play announcer for the Bally broadcasts: Brandon Gaudin, the voice of the Madden NFL video games, replaces Chip Caray, who left Atlanta to call St. Louis Cardinals games. 

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