Mar 2, 2023 - Politics

Full speed ahead for Rivian, per Georgia officials

Brian Kemp, RJ Scaringe, Pat Wilson

Gov. Brian Kemp (left) declared Wednesday "Rivian Day" at the Capitol with Rivian CEO R.J. Scaringe (center) and Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson (right). Photo: Emma Hurt/Axios

The day after Rivian stocks fell in response to a $7 billion annual loss, CEO R.J. Scaringe came to Georgia to trumpet the EV-maker's ongoing plans for a massive production facility east of Atlanta.

Why it matters: The company has promised to employ 7,500 workers through a $5 billion investment. Rivian’s second factory would amount to one of Georgia's largest economic development projects ever — with a $1.5 billion tax incentive package to match.

Driving the news: Despite a year of unprofitability and an ongoing legal battle with some residents, Rivian has begun site development on a 2,000-acre parcel 50 miles east of Atlanta. The company opened an office nearby, and as Kemp made clear, Rivian continues to have the state’s support.

What they're saying: "They're just continuing to work to scale that production up, but it's no different than what Tesla or any other new EV manufacturers have gone through,” Kemp told reporters Wednesday.

Scaringe said they "expected it to be a challenging year" given the release of three new vehicles and high demand.

  • He said the Georgia facility — which will make its R2 series — will be "foundational for us to really get to the next level of scale and continue to drive not only our scale but our profitability."

The intrigue: Some residents continue to oppose the project on environmental and economic grounds in the courts. The Georgia Court of Appeals is considering the legality of part of the project's tax incentive package and opponents recently re-filed two lawsuits alleging illegal zoning processes.

  • "In over a year nobody from the state or from Rivian has made an overture to speak with us," said JoEllen Artz, a founder of No2Rivian, the opposition group behind the lawsuits.

Threat level: The company could terminate its agreement with the state by May if the incentives are struck down.

Yes, but: Nothing yet has stopped the site's development and company, state and county leaders indicate it will continue to move forward.

  • Walton County Commission Chairman David Thompson told Axios he stands by the project. He said because Rivian is a "green company" it would be more likely to take better care of the site than others. "Some of these other companies are not as conscious."
  • And "something's going on that site," he said.

Editor's note: Cox Enterprises, owner of Axios Media, has a 4% stake in Rivian.

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