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WGLT, an NPR station in central Illinois, is following every move at the Rivian manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois. The electric vehicle startup has gone from stealth mode to big-time player in the auto world, attracting attention (and big money) from companies like Ford and Amazon.

Work Begins On Major Rivian Office Remodel In Normal

Rivian plant exterior
Ryan Denham
The front of the Rivian plant in Normal, seen here in January 2019.

Work is underway on the $1.3 million first phase of a major office remodel at the Rivian plant in Normal.

The electric vehicle startup bought the former Mitsubishi Motors plant for $16 million in 2017. It plans to begin manufacturing its pickup truck and sport utility vehicle there late next year.

Rivian is now working on a major remodel of the office space on the west side of the building, said Town of Normal Assistant Director of Inspections Scot Williams. The first phase of renovations, with a March 21 approved building permit, involves 24,000 square feet of office space, he said. They’re modernizing the office's look, upgrading lighting, adding a break room, and making other changes, he said.

Rivian’s hiring in Normal is expected to ramp up throughout this year and next. It now has around 750 employees companywide, with most in Michigan, California, and the U.K. To get its millions in local and state tax breaks, Rivian has promised to hire 1,000 full-time workers in Normal by 2024. If those jobs materialize Rivian would become one of McLean County's largest employers.

Farnsworth Group is the architect for the office remodel, with PJ Hoerr serving as contractor, said Williams. The IBEW 197 electricians’ union tweeted Sunday night that their members were working on the project over the weekend.

A Rivian spokesperson declined comment Wednesday on the office renovations, “other than to say the company is continuing with its renovation of the factory.”

In addition to meeting certain hiring thresholds, Rivian also must invest specific amounts of money to receive its full state and local incentives. To get its $1 million grant from the Town of Normal, it must invest $20 million in “project expenses” within five years. To get its property tax breaks, it must invest incrementally more project expenses each year, topping out at $40.5 million by December 2021.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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