SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — Rivian’s sponsored event that included test drives and displays of its vehicles last week was the first of a series of interactions with area residents and leaders, some top company officials said.
Company founder and CEO R.J. Scaringe said it has been “great spending time” with area leaders and residents and talking to them about the company’s plans for its $5 billion EV production facility near Social Circle.
The company’s production facility is planned for a 2,000-acre site on the north side of I-20 in Walton and Morgan counties.
“As we think about the site, how do we include feedback, how do we make sure it’s contemplating its impact on the area?” Scaringe told The News. “We’re spending a lot of time doing that.”
Scaringe also said in a recent call with investors that the plant would be the production facility for its new R2 SUV that will be more economically priced than its current vehicles.
“The R2 has always been part of the plan but we had to find the right facility, the right location,” he said.
Scaringe spoke during an event Saturday, May 14, that drew hundreds throughout the day to GSU’s Perimeter College-Newton campus near Social Circle.
It featured chances to meet top company officials, see displays of the company’s vehicles’ technology, find out about Rivian’s plans for its area production facility, and drive in some electric vehicles produced at its plant in Illinois.
The event was designed to thank those who have supported the company such as economic development professionals, local business leaders and elected officials, and others, along with their friends and family, a spokesperson said.
A small number of preorder holders from the area were also invited to attend, the spokesperson said.
James Chen, Rivian’s vice president of public policy, also was among a group of top company officials who interacted with residents from around the area, including the mayors of Social Circle, Rutledge and Madison.
Chen said he has met with Morgan County officials in the “start of a dialogue” with community leaders that the production facility will be good for the area.
He said the company did consider a site in Bryan County near Savannah on which Kia now plans to build a plant for production of its own electric vehicles.
Rivian’s chosen Georgia site had the right balance of relatively easy access to Atlanta and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, close access to a rail line, an educated workforce and more, he said.
“We wanted to be part of a world-class city,” Chen said.
The company plans to hire up to 7,500 in “21st century jobs” with starting pay averaging $56,000.
Chen said the site is planned for sustainability and the company will retain much of the natural setting on the site — leaving part of the site unpaved, for example — because of Rivian’s focus on the environment.
“We’re looking at the next generation of renewable energy,” he said.
Scaringe also told an Atlanta newspaper the plant will be a model of environmental sustainability.
He told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the company is committed to building a “world-class and green manufacturing complex.” Scaringe also said Rivian will be a responsible neighbor. Its plans for sustainability include removing as few trees as possible, as well as limiting its water and power usage, he said.
The plant also will be “one of the most efficient plants in the world and we’ll really set the bar in terms of what sustainability looks like in terms of vehicle manufacturing,” Scaringe said.
The company plans to host a series of events over the next six to 12 months to engage the community on topics like sustainability, workforce development, and local business partnerships, a spokesman told the AJC.
The state and the Joint Development Authority recently filed for federal wetlands permits. Georgia officials also have begun hosting a series of community planning meetings on such topics as the site plans. It also has set meetings on such topics as workforce development.