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JDA OKs resolution to seek state funds for Rivian land purchase
Rivian EVs
Rivian vehicles. (Special | Rivian)

COVINGTON, Ga. — The four-county Joint Development Authority (JDA) has approved a resolution to seek state economic development funding for purchase of land for the Rivian electric vehicle plant.

The Authority, which includes Newton County, in a special called meeting at the Historic Courthouse on Tuesday voted for an inducement resolution to seek state Regional Economic Business Assistance (REBA) funds which are "critical to inducing the industry to locate a facility" in the JDA's four-county area of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties.

The resolution was approved so the JDA will have it available by May 1 for purchase of land within the EV plant's planned 2,000-acre site within the city of Social Circle and unincorporated Morgan and Walton counties.

In a statement, the JDA said, "The Joint Development Authority (JDA) is required to vote on a resolution seeking a Regional Economic Business Assistance (REBA) grant from the state of Georgia and Department of Community Affairs (DCA) in order to provide funding for the purchase of land related to the Rivian manufacturing facility. 

"This resolution is required as part of the grant application process so that the JDA has the necessary funding available by May 1, 2022. 

"A resolution like this is a common procedure taken by local development authorities that partner with the state and is an important part of the process to locate a facility within the territorial area of the JDA and state of Georgia."

According to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, REBA is an incentive program used to help "close the deal" when Georgia is competing against other states or countries for an employer to locate or expand.

REBA funds can be used to finance infrastructure, real estate acquisition, construction, or machinery and equipment, the department stated. 

"A local development authority must be the applicant for a REBA application and the application must be supported by a recommendation letter from a state agency, typically the Georgia Department of Economic Development."

The state in February took control of the planning process for the EV manufacturer's second U.S. plant, whose site is adjacent to Newton County's northeast corner and straddles the line between Morgan and Walton counties along the north side of I-20.

State officials have said Georgia was prepared to offer about $125 million in incentives, including construction of a new I-20 interchange and a state job training center near the plant.

Local opposition has been mainly centered around the nearby town of Rutledge and western Morgan County but includes members from the four-county region. 

Opponents' concerns have included the impact on the area's primarily rural way of life and such environmental issues as what they say is potential groundwater contamination. 

Company and JDA officials have said environmental protections will be a major focus for California-based Rivian, which says it will employ up to 7,500 at a vehicle production facility and research center.