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BELTON: Lost in criticisms, Rivian offers great opportunity
Belton, Dave
State Rep. Dave Belton

There has been a great deal of news lately about the new development in Stanton Springs — Rivian. What everyone seems to be missing is the incredible opportunity it promises for our children. 

I sympathize with the small minority who is upset. Their concerns about the environment are certainly warranted. But the JDA has clearly demonstrated with its previous tenants that they are environmentally friendly. This newest addition – a “green energy” company if ever there was one – is certain to be even more committed.

Of course, I’m concerned about growth. But speaking with legislators around LaGrange, I’ve learned that the KIA plant did not cause problems. Instead, by standing strong on their local zoning, and with the ample dollars that those new jobs provided, the locals were able to mold their community into exactly what they wanted it to be. And – like Takeda and Facebook – most of the workers at KIA did not move to LaGrange. Instead, they drive to work from the same small towns that they were raised in. 

Which is exactly the point. When I ran for office eight years ago, the No. 1 thing I heard from the voters is that they didn’t want their children to have to move away to get a decent job. I heard it so much that I made it the theme of my campaign; “I want our children to have the quality jobs to raise their children; back Here, back Home.” 

Stanton Springs does that.  

This Super Site was created more than 20 years ago with the stated goal of creating jobs for our children. It was strategically located next to a very busy interstate and a very convenient railroad. People who later moved next to that same Super Site that was next to that busy interstate and convenient railroad can hardly be surprised when the goal of that Super Site was finally realized. 

Over the next 25 years, the combined tax revenues from all the Stanton Springs companies will generate upwards of $900 million to our local communities. That means our schools – our children – are huge winners. Thus, if you are against this facility, then you are opposed to providing hundreds of millions of dollars to our schools and communities.

As a longtime public servant, and former member of the Morgan County School Board, I know that these new revenues will more than offset new expenses. I’m heartened by the opportunity to lower property taxes, as gobs of clean, manufacturing dollars come pouring in. But most of all, I’m excited what these new partnership will mean for our schools, and the whopping salaries our children will command with this cutting-edge technology. 

I know that change is hard. I admire the passion of the opposing side, and am grateful at their veracity. Because their argument belies a fundamental flaw…they want things to stay exactly the same as it was the day after they moved here. 

In other words, they want to sacrifice our children’s future in order to hold on to their past. 

But most of us embrace a different vision, affectionately known as “The American Dream.” We want our children to have a better life than we had ourselves. We look to the future instead of the past. 

More importantly, our chief export should not be our own children. As parents, we should pursue prudent opportunities that empower our children to be able to work in the town that they were raised in. We shouldn’t have to drive to Atlanta to find a job. A world-class facility that offers all of that – that cleanly produces the vehicles of tomorrow, with excellent salaries for its employees – should be welcomed.

I’ve spent a lot of time in rust-belt cities. Their lament is always the same. Manufacturing jobs went to China, and now their town is suffering. 

What we’re doing is exactly the opposite! Jobs aren’t fleeing to China. They’re coming right here! 

The four counties of the Stanton Springs collaboration are not strangers to large projects. Our good neighbors of Takeda and Meta chose this area due to our labor pool, capital resources, ample water and space. In every instance, the JDA brought us new, leading-edge tech companies that you and I are right to be proud of.

 This latest project will be the same. 

State Rep. Dave Belton is a Republican representing District 112, which includes portions of Morgan and Newton counties, in the Georgia House of Representatives. He is not seeking reelection in the 2022 midterm election.