Feds putting up $75M for semiconductor chips plant in Georgia

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff

ATLANTA – The Biden administration Thursday announced it is committing up to $75 million toward a semiconductor component manufacturing plant being built in Covington.

Absolics, a subsidiary of South Korea-based SK Group, broke ground on the facility in 2022. The project will create more than 1,200 manufacturing and construction jobs, said U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., who has made several economic development trips to South Korea since taking office in 2021.

The federal grant will come from the CHIPS and Science Act Congress passed two years ago, part of Biden’s plan to revitalize American manufacturing.

On Thursday, Ossoff described growing a domestic semiconductor industry now dominated by China as crucial to U.S. national security.

“It has been my vision since I took office that Georgia should lead the nation and America should lead the world in the advanced manufacturing of semiconductor chips,” he said. “Chips are in almost everything we use. They’re crucial to major national security technologies … and to our military.”

SK already has a major presence in Georgia. The company operates an electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant in Commerce, and a second facility is under construction in Cartersville.

The 120,000-square-foot plant in Covington will produce glass substrates, which increase the performance of leading-edge chips by enabling smaller, more densely packed connections resulting in faster and more energy-efficient computing.

Paper products company expanding in Macon

ATLANTA – A paper products company that’s been in Macon since 2008 will invest $418 million to expand its local footprint, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday.

First Quality Baby Products’ expansion will create 600 news jobs.

“We’re always thankful when job creators like First Quality choose to expand in Georgia,” Kemp said. “More than 70% of last year’s economic development projects were expansions of businesses already operating here.”

First Quality and its affiliates manufacture baby diapers; youth and training pants; adult incontinence products; paper towels; and toilet paper. The company announced plans in March to expand its baby diaper and training pants manufacturing capacity by 50%.

“This expansion is a testament to First Quality’s innovative products and continuing commitment to the baby diaper market,” said Allen Bedford, president of First Quality’s Absorbent Hygiene Division.

First Quality will be filling executive, administrative, supervisory, and production positions. Openings will be posted at www.firstquality.com as they become available.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Global Commerce team worked on the project in partnership with the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Development Authority, Georgia Power, and the Technical College System of Georgia’s Quick Start program.

U.S. House passes McBath’s prison oversight bill

ATLANTA – Legislation establishing oversight of the federal prison system sponsored by U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, has cleared the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bipartisan bill, which passed Tuesday with just two “no” votes and now moves to the U.S. Senate, would require the Justice Department’s Inspector General to conduct comprehensive inspections of the federal Bureau of Prisons’ 122 correctional facilities and provide recommendations to fix the problems it uncovers. The bureau would have 60 days to respond to all inspection reports with a corrective action plan.

The bill also would establish an independent ombudsman to investigate the health, safety, welfare, and rights of incarcerated people and staff. The ombudsman’s office would create a secure hotline and online form for family members, friends, and representatives of incarcerated people to submit complaints.

“Today’s vote marks significant progress in our work to make needed reforms to protect the staff and incarcerated individuals in our federal prison system,” McBath said Tuesday. “This is proof of what is possible when Democrats and Republicans work together for the benefit of the American people.”

“This is a major milestone,” added Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., who led an investigation into the federal prison system in 2022 and is sponsoring a Senate version of McBath’s bill. “My bipartisan Senate investigations of corruption, abuse, and misconduct in the federal prison system have revealed an urgent need to overhaul federal prison oversight.” 

The legislation has been endorsed by Families Against Mandatory Minimums, The Prison Fellowship, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and the Due Process Institute.

Jack, Dugan headed for runoff in 3rd Congressional District

Brian Jack

ATLANTA – A former aide in the Trump White House and a former state senator are headed toward a runoff to decide the Republican nominee in Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District.

Brian Jack, brandishing an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, was the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s GOP primary with 46.7% of the vote to 24.9% for second-place finisher Mike Dugan in the west-central Georgia district, according to unofficial results.

That left Jack short of the 50%-plus-one margin needed to avoid a June 18 runoff against Dugan. Three other candidates in a crowded Republican field seeking to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point – former state Sen. Mike Crane, businessman Jim Bennett, and former state Rep. Philip Singleton – finished out of the running.

Jack played up his close ties with Trump during the campaign, while Dugan touted his accomplishments during a stint as Georgia Senate majority leader.

Meanwhile, Maura Keller defeated Val Almonord for the Democratic nomination in the heavily Republican 3rd District. Keller captured 53% of the vote to 47% for Almonord.

Andrew Pinson retains state Supreme Court seat

Andrew Pinson

ATLANTA – Georgia Supreme Court Justice Andrew Pinson was reelected Tuesday night in a rare contested election for a seat on the high court.

Pinson captured 55% of the statewide vote to 45% for former U.S. Rep. John Barrow, according to unofficial results.

Incumbent state Supreme Court justices in Georgia rarely face opposition. In fact, Chief Justice Michael Boggs and Justices John Ellington and Nels Peterson were reelected Tuesday with no opponents.

Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Pinson to the court in 2022 and went to bat for him in the final stages of the campaign. The Republican governor appeared in a TV ad criticizing Barrow, a Democrat who represented an east Georgia congressional district for a decade, for politicizing the non-partisan judicial race.

The Kemp ad followed an ad in which Barrow promised to protect abortion rights if elected.