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Rivian to build $5 billion plant in Georgia, but incentives package is unclear

Brian Kemp Rivian
John Bazemore
Gov. Brian Kemp smiles as he stands next to a Rivian electric truck during a ceremony to announce that the electric truck maker plans to build a $5 billion battery and assembly plant east of Atlanta projected to employ 7,500 workers, on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, in Atlanta.

Rivian on Thursday confirmed plans to build a $5 billion manufacturing plant in the state of Georgia that will have more employees and capacity than its first facility in Normal.

Construction of the Georgia plant is expected to begin in summer 2022 and take about two years. It will employ more than 7,500 workers eventually.

“It’s a great day to be a Georgian,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. “It’s even a better day to be announcing the largest single economic development project in our state’s history.”

It’s unclear how much incentive money Georgia had to offer to land Rivian. Sites in Texas and Arizona were also reportedly considered. The Fort Worth City Council approved a $440 million tax incentive package earlier this year aimed at luring Rivian to North Texas. It didn’t work.

A Rivian spokesperson said they did not have information share yet on the incentives, though that information is expected to become public later. A spokesperson for Kemp said details about the incentives should be posted online in five business days.

Rivian wasn’t well-known when it asked for tax breaks to take over the old Mitsubishi plant in Normal. It’s received $1.8 million in property tax breaks in the first four years of its incentives deal. It declined the $1 million Town of Normal it had earned, as a neighborly gesture. It was also slated to receive $49 million in Illinois state tax credits, although it’s unclear how much of that money it’s actually received, if any.

The second plant, just east of Atlanta in Georgia, will prepare Rivian for the next phase of growth. It’s able to do that, in part, because it raised $13.7 billion in its massive initial public offering in November.

The Georgia plant will be capable of producing up to 400,000 vehicles per year. That’s twice the capacity in Normal. The Georgia plant will also eventually have “co-located cell production,” part of a company initiative to strengthen its battery supply chain.

Georgia would also have more employees. Rivian now has around 3,800 workers in Normal, with plans to add another 800-1,000 employees by June 2022.

Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe said the site selection process included three primary considerations: site location and logistics, access to talent, and proximity to suppliers. The company said other considerations included “logistics, environmental impact, renewable energy production, availability and quality of talent and fit with Rivian company culture.”

Rivian Chief People Officer Helen Russell said Thursday that “we’re excited for Georgians to bring their creativity and ideas to Rivian.”

“That allows me and my team and Rivian to capitalize on the depth and breadth of talent that resides here in Georgia,” Russell said. “We intend to bring 7,500 jobs to Georgia, across a plethora of skills and capabilities, and to really capitalize on the education systems, the resources, and the talent that resides here.”

Thursday’s announcement further ties together Bloomington-Normal and Atlanta. Bloomington-based State Farm already has one of its hub locations there. Delta offers daily nonstop flights to Atlanta from Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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