Leaders Make The Case For Taxpayer Support Of Rivian | WGLT

Leaders Make The Case For Taxpayer Support Of Rivian

Dec 9, 2016

A cloaked vehicle. Public images of the Rivian prototype are unavailable.

The Mayor of Normal said twin cities officials checked into negative news reports about Rivian Automotive and there is nothing there.

Koos made the case for proceeding with a million dollar cash grant and five year tax abatement to encourage Rivian to buy the former Mitsubishi plant.

The tech startup Rivian is mentioned unfavorably in an on-line article as having accepted incentive money in Florida and then left town but, Mayor Koos said that's not the accurate picture.

"The money that Florida gave to Rivian was a competitive grant and they won the grant. They fulfilled all the terms of the grant successfully. The state of Florida was happy with them," said Koos.

Koos said the matter was clearly political and involved one candidate impuning the reputation of the company as a way to attack an opponent.

The Mayor said there are adequate protections for taxpayers in the proposed incentive package to lure tech startup Rivian Automotive into buying the former Mitsubishi plant. Koos said the town is not just giving away a million dollars plus property tax abatements.

"There is a certain amount of risk with any startup operation. Capitalizing the manufacturing of an automobile is a pretty tall order. I think what people need to realize regarding the incentive packages is there are no incentives without performance," said Koos.

For instance, Koos said the Town would not pay the grant money until Rivian spends 20-million dollars inside the plant readying it for auto production.

The Town Council will debate the proposed agreement Monday. Heartland Community College will take up the issue Tuesday. The McLean County Board Executive Committee has the issue on the agenda Tuesday afternoon. Unit Five School Board members are slated to talk about the issue Wednesday. And Dry Grove Township officials will also have to register their formal opinion of the proposal for tax abatements.

Hear the interview with Ham and Koos.