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Georgia sets USD1.5B in aid for electric vehicle maker Rivian

ATLANTA (AP) – The American state of Georgia and local governments will give Rivian Automotive USD1.5 billion of incentives to build a 7,500-job, USD5 billion electric vehicle plant east of Atlanta, according to documents the company and state signed on Monday.

Georgia Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson said the size of the package reflects the size of the largest single industrial announcement in Georgia history, including a pledge that the company will reach the full investment and job targets by the end of 2028, with jobs paying an average of USD56,000 a year, plus benefits. The state also hopes Rivian will anchor an entire electric vehicle industry.

“It’s absolutely appropriate because they’re creating more jobs,” Wilson said.

It is, by far, the largest incentive package Georgia has ever offered to a company, It’s also the largest incentive package any American state has ever given to an auto plant said Greg LeRoy, executive director Good Jobs First, a group sceptical of subsidies to private companies.

“This is very significant,” LeRoy said. “It’s the biggest auto assembly subsidy package in United States (US) history.”

Governor Brian Kemp walks past a Rivian electric truck. PHOTO: AP

Rivian, based in Irvine, California, is a start-up manufacturer of electric trucks and commercial delivery vans, challenging both established automakers like Ford and General Motors and electric vehicle leader Tesla. The company is already producing vehicles in Normal, Illinois.

Rivian hopes to break ground as early as this summer and begin production in 2024, sprinting toward producing 400,000 vehicles a year in Georgia as electric vehicle makers try to gain market share.

“The long-term economic partnership promises to deliver value to Rivian, the people of Georgia and their kids’ kids’ kids,” the company said in a statement

The plant has been beset by fierce local opposition from residents who say development on the 800-hectare site will spoil their rural quality of life. The site is about 70 kilometres east of downtown Atlanta.

The state took over planning and zoning for the project after opponents overwhelmed Morgan County officials. Residents have voiced concerns about possible well-water contamination, light pollution and the disruption of wildlife and farmland. Wilson said a site plan and other documents released on Monday show Rivian responding to those concerns, shifting the plant away from wetlands and agreeing to limit light pollution.

Opposition has become entangled in politics. Former US senator David Perdue, who is challenging Kemp in the May 24 Republican primary, lines up with opponents.

Perdue has emphasised the role of “liberal billionaire George Soros”. Although Soros bought USD2 billion worth of shares about the same time Rivian chose Georgia, he owns only two per cent of Rivian. There’s no evidence Soros influenced the plant location.