BRYAN COUNTY, Ga (WSAV) — The Joint Development Authority of Bryan, Bulloch, Effingham, and Chatham counties hosted a program and discussion today to educate people about South Korean culture—an effort to make their new neighbors feel more at home. 

“This economic development project is going to change the landscape of these counties—in a good way. But you have to be receptive to that,” says Jeanne Charbonneau. 

In October of last year, Hyundai broke ground on the mega site in Bryan County. The plant will bring more than 8 thousand jobs to the area. Some of those positions will be filled by South Korean staff brought over by Hyundai. 

“Welcome them with open hearts. These are highly intelligent, highly educated people. The families particularly didn’t have a voice in whether they were coming here or not, and it’s a strain for them—at least initially. And, having a welcome and open environment and knowing that they can and will be supported here is going to be really, really important,” says Charbonneau. 

Jeanne Charbonneau has experience with relocating South Korean families to the U.S.  She says their arrival will impact the community in different ways. 

“If you are a teacher in a public or a private school, if you are in business, if you are associated with the chamber, if you are a member of any of the civic organizations, you are going to have an active role,” she says. 

Bryan county officials say this seminar is just the beginning of plans to welcome our future neighbors. 

“This will definitely start conversations of what kind of educational events we need to have, is there a department or group that we come up with to make sure these families feel welcomed and all the things that have to happen are smooth,” says Katherine Johnson. 

Based on Tuesday’s turnout—Charbonneau believes the community is receptive and ready for Hyundai. 

“They are here because they care. So, that to me is a really encouraging sign that Savannah is going to wrap their arms around this and do everything right,” she says. 

More than 100 South Koreans have already moved to the Savannah area to assist with the construction of the Metaplant.