ATLANTA – A Newton County economic development official will be among leaders of four committees a state department announced this week "to ensure public input into a variety of factors involved in the planning stages" for the Rivian project at Stanton Springs North.
Committee members will come from throughout the four Joint Development Authority (JDA) counties as part of the state-sponsored planning process for the 2,000-acre site partly in Social Circle, said officials with the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Monday, March 14.
Among committee members are Asher Dozier, vice president of Economic Development for the Newton County Industrial Development Authority, who will assist with the Workforce Development Committee.
Each member volunteered or agreed to serve on the committees – whose meetings are being planned within the four-county area included in the JDA "for ease of planning and public input," the state agency said in a news release.
In response to a Feb. 18 request from the JDA of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton Counties, GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson issued a letter and released a statement about the state government taking charge of the Rivian project in agreement with the JDA.
Wilson said the state of Georgia would take leadership in the Rivian project and work "collectively with all four counties to ensure a unified and streamlined approach to project development to ensure consistent, uniform conditions across the site," the agency's release stated.
The action also allows state officials to work on the planned 16-million-square-foot project without having to go through local planning agencies.
However, the release said the state of Georgia will ensure the project — planned for a site straddling the line between Walton and Morgan counties — follow locally required standards pertaining to water quality, groundwater recharge and runoff, and all local environmental ordinances.
The requirements "will be built into the overarching agreement between the state of Georgia, the JDA, and Rivian," the release stated.
"Additionally, conserving buffers, wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation around the site is a high priority for local partners and Rivian. (The department) is ready and willing to partner with local conservation organizations and area elected officials in pursuing this goal," the release stated.
Wilson also announced committees would be formed to focus on four areas: Workforce Development; Local Business Engagement; Site Design and Environmental; and Quality of Life.
Wilson announced some committee members Monday.
"Committee members were chosen with input from both local and state officials to ensure a diversity of location and based on relevant positions related to their committees.
"Relevant state departments will staff each committee based on appropriate subject matter and technical expertise and will be assisted by a combination of private and public sector representation."
The release said meetings will be public with advance public notice given.
Wilson said Rivian selected Stanton Springs North "for a variety of reasons, including its distinctive beauty and the region’s welcoming environment."
"We will work with the JDA and the local community as Rivian continues to go above and beyond in becoming part of the fabric of the community before even one shovel goes in the ground,” Wilson said.
“The four committees announced (Monday) provide diverse representation from across communities in the four counties that will each be directly impacted by this generational project.
“Many thanks to the representatives who will serve as part of this process to help ensure that local considerations and community voices are heard as Rivian begins to build its new Georgia home,” he said.
The committee system will "ensure direct coordination of considerations from across multiple jurisdictions and land parcels," and the public feedback process "will allow all communities to have a voice across the decision-making process."
"The state has committed to continuously work with city and county governments to ensure that every concern is heard, and every question is answered," the release stated.
The Rivian project was announced in December. It will create 7,500 jobs and be a $5 billion capital investment, company officials said.
A new Technical College System of Georgia training center and a new interchange on I-20 will be included.
JDA Chairman Jerry Silvio of Newton County said, “Thanks to the work of this community over the years, Rivian recognized Georgia and Stanton Springs North as the ideal place to create 7,500 American manufacturing jobs.
"This generational opportunity will bring our community better wages and better jobs that will lead to a stronger tax base to support investment in schools, roads, and the local economy,” Silvio said.
“We look forward to partnering with the state and these committees to ensure the best interests of our community and natural environment are incorporated into the plans for this project.
"While there is much work to be done, our priority is to bring the community together and unite around the benefits of building American-made, electric cars in Georgia,” Silvio said.
Information regarding the dates and location of meetings will be available at www.georgia.org/rivian along with committee assignments. Each committee will have a designated official staff lead coordinator and assistants along with a representative from Rivian participating.
After final meetings conclude, recommendations will be developed by the committees and reported to the state of Georgia and Rivian.
• The Workforce Development Committee's mission statement: "To meet current and future workforce needs for Rivian and other existing industries as well as for future prospects within the region. To effectively plan for future workforce growth and demand and address key issues like wages, in-demand careers, and industry trends with input from the private sector. To coordinate with K-12 systems, the University System of Georgia, and the Technical College System of Georgia to identify necessary training programs are in place and a sufficient pipeline of future workers will exist to meet industry needs."
Staff lead: Mark Peavy, assistant commissioner, Secondary Education Initiatives, Technical College System of Georgia.
Assistant: Asher Dozier, Vice President of Economic Development, Newton County Industrial Development Authority.
• Local Business Engagement Committee's mission statement: "To identify and engage local businesses with the opportunity to provide goods and services from Rivian and its suppliers. Such opportunities include those provided directly from Rivian, as well as indirect opportunities resulting from Rivian’s location (i.e. suppliers, indirect demands like housing and retail)."
Staff lead: Hank Evans, director, Project Implementation and Corporate Development, Georgia Department of Economic Development.
Assistant: Naceo Denney, area manager, Georgia Power.
• Site Design and Environmental Committee's mission statement: "To have subject matter experts provide feedback to ensure that Rivian’s site and operation meets requisite State, Federal, and local ordinances to protect the environment and communities. To provide feedback on site design such that design and operation maximize positive impacts on the community and minimize any negative impacts."
Staff lead: John Eunice, deputy director, Environmental Protection Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Assistant: Charna Parker, director, Walton County Planning and Development.
• Quality of Life Committee's mission statement: "To identify opportunities for Rivian to participate in local civic engagement and other public benefits that will positively impact the local communities. To identify opportunities locally and across the state of Georgia for land conservation initiatives."
Staff lead: Rusty Haygood, deputy commissioner, Community Development and Finance, Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
• Subcommittees: Civic Engagement, Public Benefits, Land Conservation.
Civic Engagement Assistant: Kristen Miller, Senior Regional Director, Georgia Department of Economic Development.
Public Benefits Assistant: Beth Eavenson, Regional Representative, Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
Land Conservation Assistant: Rope Roberts, Northeast Region Economic Development Manager, Georgia Power.