Electric-pickup maker Rivian Automotive Inc. will receive $1.5 billion in state and local incentives to build a massive plant near Atlanta, bolstering the company’s production efforts despite local resistance to the project.
The package, the biggest in Georgia history, consists of tax credits, abatements and subsidies like site preparation and job training support from the state, according to a statement by the Georgia Department of Economic Development on Monday.
Irvine, California-based Rivian is a high-profile, well-funded newcomer to the growing pack of EV manufacturers. The company’s November initial public offering was the sixth biggest in U.S. history, generating more than $13 billion to fund growth. However, Rivian has struggled to ramp production of its products at an existing plant in Normal, Illinois, due to supply-chain pressures.
The $5 billion Georgia plant is the crown jewel in an ambitious growth strategy that Rivian hopes will include new consumer models beyond its existing offerings: a battery-electric pickup called R1T and an SUV called R1S.
Rivian called the deal a “milestone” in its progress toward building a second plant.
“The long-term economic partnership promises to deliver value to Rivian, the people of Georgia and their kids’ kids’ kids,” the automaker said in an emailed statement.
Rivian will get $476 million in statutory tax credits if it fulfills its promise to create a total of 7,500 jobs by the end of 2028. If it doesn’t, there are clawbacks to protect the taxpayer, said Pat Wilson, Georgia’s commissioner of economic development. Georgia is putting in another $288 million in discretionary spending in the form of site preparation and job training programs. Tax abatements from the four counties hosting the plant make up the rest of the package — about $700 million over 25 years.
The counties will still reap about $330 million in tax revenue from Rivian, versus the $2 million they would get if the project didn’t happen, Wilson said.
“It’s a huge net win,” he said. “The state has always placed a priority on jobs — if you’re creating jobs in the state, we incentivize those jobs.”
Some residents living near the site in Rutledge, Georgia, about 45 minutes east of Atlanta, have pushed back against the project, citing concerns about traffic, environmental damage and continued urban sprawl. A Facebook group dedicated to fighting the project amassed about 3,000 members, and drew political support from former U.S. Senator David Perdue, who is challenging incumbent Governor Brian Kemp in Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial primary in May.
Opposition was loud enough that the state took over the approval process to consolidate local zoning and compliance and head off a threat of project delays.
Rivian’s investment would be the biggest economic development project in Georgia since at least World War II. The Peach State has been passed over by multiple Asian and Europe automakers, and has only one vehicle assembly factory, a Kia Motors plant in West Point, near the Alabama border. South Korean battery maker SK Innovation has constructed a $2.6 billion factory in east Georgia to make power sources for electric vehicles, including Ford’s F-150 Lightning pickup.
Rivian has pledged to create more than 7,500 jobs, with the eventual goal of producing 450,000 vehicles annually at the site. Rivian will pay workers an average annual wage of $56,000, and the project will create nearly 8,000 indirect jobs, according to the state.
The company also has an order for 100,000 electric delivery vans from Amazon.com Inc., a major Rivian shareholder.
–By Gabrielle Coppola and Ed Ludlow (Bloomberg)