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Economic developer backs out of Rivian town hall in Rutledge
Rivian meeting
The Rev. Alan Davis Jenkins asks Shane Short of the Joint Development Authority about plans for the Rivian site Jan. 11 at Social Circle Middle School. - photo by Tom Spigolon

MADISON, Ga. — A local economic developer has backed out of a town hall meeting after intense public backlash over the Rivian Inc. truck plant.

Shane Short, the executive director of the Development Authority of Walton County, has declined to participate in the meeting planned for Thursday night in Rutledge.

Short, who recruits for the four-county Joint Development Authority that is bringing Rivian to Stanton Springs, told the Morgan County Citizen on Monday he would not attend the meeting. He cited personal attacks.

The meeting is planned for Philadelphia Baptist Church, at 4031 Davis Academy Road.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced last month the California-based company would make a $5 billion investment on a plant sited on nearly 2,000 acres straddling Morgan and Walton counties near the intersection of Interstate 20 and U.S. 278.

Kemp said the project would bring about 7,500 jobs to the area, but some nearby aren’t pleased with the prospect of growth.

“There is nothing more that I can provide at this point,” Short told the Madison newspaper.

“There has been too much anger and attacks at me personally and I have nothing further to say.”

Short said he would meet with individuals and small groups but had no plans to have more large public meetings as he conducted last week at Social Circle Middle School.

JoEllen Artz of Rutledge said Short’s decision does not mean the meeting is canceled. She told the newspaper she hoped to get another JDA representative to meet with neighbors Thursday night.

Short said he canceled the meeting due to “personal attacks.”

He said future information about the project would have to come from the JDA, the state or Rivian itself.

The JDA will meet again Jan. 25 at the Morgan County Government Administration Building in Madison. Authority meetings are open to the public.

Rivian has said it will have a town hall meeting, but the date and place haven’t been set.