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Well-compensated career paths, an employee-first culture, and a push for hiring local: Brenda's HMGMA story

With nearly 100% health coverage from day one and production salaries starting at $22.40 an hour, "take the leap," says Brenda Solis, one of Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America (HMGMA)'s recent local hires. She explains how HMGMA's opportunities are creating a pathway for community members to find rewarding, well-compensated careers in Bulloch County and the surrounding area.

The Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America (HMGMA) is building more than a structure on I-16; it's creating a pathway for folks in Bulloch and surrounding counties to find rewarding, well-compensated careers close to home, shared Brenda Solis.

Brenda Solis started working with the company in October 2023 and serves as their General Affairs Administrative Associate.

Solis grew up and continues to live in her hometown in Jenkins County. She is a former Multicultural Admission Counselor at Georgia Southern University.

Solis is one of many area individuals who've made a recent career transition to HMGMA, and the reasons are clear: great pay, great benefits, and the chance to "be a part of something great," Solis explains. 

She says that working for HMGMA has been an amazing transition for her professionally, giving her opportunities, like traveling to South Korea with her team, that she never imagined.

“And it’s not just for engineers,” she says. Solis can confirm that HMGMA has a variety of office, administrative, and skilled labor needs that they are willing to train people to perform.

“HMGMA really wants us to have a say in the new plant,” Solis added. The company has asked Solis and her colleagues to weigh in on everything from desks and office furniture to the kind of amenities planned for their workspace, even taste-testing vendors for an on-site restaurant.

Brenda Solis working with another Meta Pro on the HMGMA team.  Photo Provided by HMGMA

“At the end of the day, the company takes and values its employees very highly,” Solis said, “And it’s really exciting that such a large, well-known company has brought these opportunities to our area.”

'Meta Pros' are more than just employees

Creating a supportive work culture and demonstrating employee value plays a major role in HMGMA’s mission, to such an extent that the HMGMA local leaders decided not to use the word “employees” to refer to their team members. 

Instead, they chose “Meta Pros,” a term that embodies the value of each team member and the professional quality each person’s contributions help create.

Sharon Curran, one of their first area hires, coined the term, which is derived from “metaplant” and “professionals.” Curran is originally from Ireland, but moved to Savannah with her husband in 2022. She serves as HMGMA's Learning and Development Assistant Manager. 

Right now, HMGMA is focused on finding and supporting future Meta Pros, the people who will ultimately help the company launch a successful base here, Solis explained.

At the time this story was published, HMGMA had hired 552 employees, with 424 (77%) of them being from the Greater Savannah Area, a region defined as a 65-mile radius around the plant. An additional 53 employees are South Korean expats who will gradually decrease after construction is complete, shared Bianca Johnson, Assistant Manager of Public Relations for HMGMA.

Johnson is also from the area: she grew up in Burke County and currently commutes from Rincon for her role at HMGMA, which she transitioned to from working as the Public Information Coordinator for the Savannah Police Department. 

Brenda Solis's journey

Solis was successfully employed in Statesboro, but when she learned about the abundance of career opportunities at HMGMA, she decided to try something new. She liked the idea of being able to make an impact as one of the first employees in a new location for a large company.

Brenda with other HMGMA team members on a recent visit to South Korea. Photo provided by HMGMA

“I applied for 8-10 positions,” she explained, and went on to share, “Even if you’re not sure you have the training you need, go ahead and apply; we will help determine whether it’s a fit and can train you for the role.”

That’s how she got where she is. After applying for several positions, the HMGMA leadership team directed her to the General Affairs Administrative role, one where her prior customer service experience at Georgia Southern would be a tremendous asset to the hundreds of incoming HMGMA Meta Pros.

She agreed and now she says, “It’s perfect for me.” She gets to bring her customer service expertise to meet the needs of employees, an opportunity that she finds rewarding and exciting.

Geared up for growth and hiring local

HMGMA ultimately plans to hire hundreds of people from the immediate area, and they are committed to providing training and support. Solis, who knows firsthand what it’s like to start a new career at the company, is now the person helping new employees get what they need to be successful.

She helps orient Meta Pros to the HMGMA environment, including making sure work areas, food, snacks, trainings, and other benefits are prepared.

Beyond hiring fairs and community outreach efforts, HMGMA has also built partnerships with several local educational institutions, including agreements with Georgia Southern University and Ogeechee Technical College.

The partnerships include student support, real-world application opportunities, future degree program partnerships like Advanced Manufacturing Engineering, and, at Ogeechee Tech, the Electric Vehicle Professional (EVP) Technical Certificate of Credit (TCC), a certificate program which started in Spring 2024.

Company Culture: Support, success, and space to grow

“Bulloch, Bryan, Effingham and Chatham counties did a lot to bring us here, so we are focused on hiring locally, especially in the four county area, and we’re doing everything we can to make that happen,” Johnson shared. 

She believes the biggest hiring obstacle they are facing is fear: “Some people are afraid that they can’t do the job because they don’t have experience in the industry, but they can.”

She emphasized and encouraged interested candidates to complete an application.

Training, helping new employees learn the skills they need, and supporting their professional growth, is part of what HMGMA expects to do now that it’s part of this community.

"This is a company that really cares about its employees and will support and grow with them," explained Solis.

Brenda on a team trip to South Korea in February. Photo provided by HMGMA

“We’re still being built, so our Meta Pros are actively making decisions about what we need,” Solis explained as she shared several possibilities the group has been asked for input on.

New HMGMA Meta Pros receive funds and discounts for their on-site micromarket shops, which offer teamwear and other amenities. There’s also free coffee at every workstation, and “The Canteen,” an on-site restaurant that will serve American and Korean fare for lunch and dinner, where Meta Pros will receive special pricing. 

The starting salary for production positions at HMGMA is $22.40/hour, and Meta Pros also receive nearly 100% healthcare coverage from day one.

To anyone curious, Solis says, “Take the leap.” She’s glad she did.