May 6, 2022 - Business

Rivian's Georgia incentive package under the microscope

David Perdue at a Rivian opposition press conference
David Perdue speaks out against the Rivian incentive package in Rutledge Tuesday. Photo: John Bazemore/AP

​​Lost in the swirl of this week’s news cycle were the details of the state’s incentive package to seal the deal with Rivian.

Driving the news: Georgia agreed to a package worth $1.5 billion of tax abatements, job tax credits, funding to purchase and develop the site’s land, a tailored workforce training facility and more.

Why it matters: This is the largest incentive package and largest economic development deal the state has ever signed.

By the numbers:

  • $56,000: Promised average salary of a Rivian Georgia employee
  • Dec. 31, 2028: The date by which the company must meet 80% of its $5 billion investment and 7,500 jobs commitments
  • $200,000: Rough cost to taxpayers per job·
  • $80,000: Current annual tax revenue from the property
  • $300 million: Property tax revenue projected throughout the 25-year agreement
  • 25 years: The clawback period during which the state may recoup its investment if Rivian falls below its promised job/investment targets

What they’re saying: Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson defends the package as “very much in line with the other projects that we’ve worked on that have created significant regional change in the areas where they located.”

Context: The KIA manufacturing plant in West Point, Ga., has invested roughly $2 billion and received roughly $500 million in a 2006 incentive package . That also broke down to about $200,000 per job, according to an AJC analysis in 2010.

Yes, but: The details of the Rivian package have re-energized the project’s opponents, who raise concerns about environmental impacts to green space and wetlands near the site, and who say that the project happened without community input.

  • Felton Jenkins, whose family owns land adjacent to the site tells Axios he’s worried about Rivian’s ability to follow through on its promises, given its startup status. “The risk is far too high for Georgia taxpayers and especially for the local communities that will bear the brunt of this massive project," he said.
  • Rivian’s electric truck and SUV models have attracted a lot of press and investment from companies across the country, including Amazon, which ordered 100,000 delivery vehicles.

Of note: The most prominent opponent of the incentive package is former Sen. David Perdue, who has adopted the opposition’s cause during his primary challenge of the project’s leading proponent, Gov. Brian Kemp.

  • At a news conference this week, Perdue said Rivian is “not interested in this part of the country. They want to make money off us.”

What we’re watching: An opposition group known as No2Rivian, has hired a lawyer to push their cause in the courts. In a statement, lawyer John Christy said there are “a number of legal issues which remain unresolved” about the incentive package and how the deal came to be.

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