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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.

Heartland CC Board Okays Rivian Package, Tax Hike


Heartland Community College is the latest central Illinois taxing body to sign off on an incentive package and tax abatements to help lure Rivian Automotive to the twin cities.

Heartland's board of trustees heard from Rivian CEO R. J. Scaringe, who touted the higher education make-up of the community as an asset and possible resource for the company. That caught the attention of Heartland President Rob Widmer.

"We look forward to opportunities to partner with Rivian over the years to come for opportunities for our students to learn and experience what the manufacturing industry is all about, and research and development in a high tech industry," Widmer said.

The board unanimously approved a $1 million incentive package and a five year property tax abatement for Rivian, split among eight taxing bodies. That means the loss of about $42,000 annually to Heartland's coffers. Widmer said that's a small amount compared to the college's district-wide assessed value of $4.4 billion.

Unit Five's school board will take up the Rivian plan Wednesday night.

Heartland's board also approved a property tax levy of $27 million that amounts to a $25 annual increase for the owner of a $165,000 home. Heartland Vice President for Business Services Greg Minter said  state funding decreases and staff reductions have led to the next step in maximizing revenue.

"While we're not pleased to increase taxes under any circumstances, we feel that increasing revenue is one strategy. Decreasing expenses is just as important strategy as that, and we've demonstrated that we've taken several measures to do that," said Minter.

Editors note: Story was updated at 10:28 AM Dec. 14, 2016 to clarify the number of taxing bodies included in the incentive package, Heartland's tax levy amount and district-wide assessed property value.

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