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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.

Permits: Over $24 Million In Work This Year At Rivian Plant

Exterior of Rivian plant
Eric Stock
Rivian bought the former Mitsubishi Motors plant in 2017 for $16 million. The company plans to begin making electric vehicles—and the batteries that power them—starting in 2020. ";s:

Rivian completed or started over $24 million in remodeling, demolition, and construction work inside its Normal manufacturing plant in 2019, Town of Normal building permits show.

The costliest work appears to be for the installation of new conveyance systems to move materials around the plant, according to permits obtained by WGLT through a records request. Lesco Design and Manufacturing, based in LaGrange, Ky., was issued two permits for conveyance systems—one in November for $11.3 million, another this month for $5.6 million.

The permits also show foundation work for a battery test facility ($350,000) at 2450 Electric Ave., a separate building just north of the plant, plus paint shop upgrades ($1.6 million) and a stamping office remodel ($150,000) in the plant itself. Also documented is millions of dollars in office remodeling that WGLT previously reported in March

P.J. Hoerr Inc., based in Normal, was the contractor on most of the permits. River City Construction, based in East Peoria, was hired for the paint shop upgrades. 

Rivian bought the former Mitsubishi Motors plant in 2017 for $16 million. The company plans to begin making electric vehicles—and the batteries that power them—in 2020. 

Rivian secured millions in local and state tax breaks when it came to Normal. In addition to meeting certain hiring thresholds, Rivian also must invest specific amounts of money to receive its full 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. 

To receive its full property tax break for 2019, Rivian must prove it’s invested $22 million in the plant and have 75 full-time employees in Normal, according to its agreement with taxing bodies. The company appears on pace to meet those requirements. Rivian had 190 employees in Normal as of late November.

“Since the town’s investment criteria are cumulative, this year’s facility work puts us above the Year 3 threshold. We were already ahead of reporting with our employment numbers,” said Rivian spokesperson Zach Dietmeier. “Construction work will continue through much of 2020, so we will continue to work closely with the local taxing authorities to make sure our project investments are clearly communicated as we prepare for production.” 

Rivian did not receive last year’s tax breaks because it did not meet the minimum $10 million investment threshold. The company cited delays in equipment procurement. Rivian also failed to meet the investment benchmark required for its state tax credits.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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