State amends Rivian’s incentive agreement to reflect delayed timeline

Amendment gives Rivian until 2030 to hit key investment, job creation marks at planned $5B EV factory after legal battle over incentives
The R1T electric vehicle sits outside the Rivian Plant in Normal, Ill., on July 20, 2022. (Photo for the Atlanta Journal Constitution by Ron Johnson)



The R1T electric vehicle sits outside the Rivian Plant in Normal, Ill., on July 20, 2022. (Photo for the Atlanta Journal Constitution by Ron Johnson)

State and local officials amended their economic development agreement with Rivian this week to give the electric vehicle manufacturer two more years to meet key investment milestones related to the company’s planned $5 billion factory an hour east of Atlanta.

The amendment comes after a prolonged legal battle over property tax breaks offered to the EV maker and multiple delays to the proposed factory’s timeline. The updated contract keeps in place Rivian’s commitment to employ 7,500 workers at an average annual salary of $56,000, along with mechanisms to reduce the value of incentives if Rivian does not meet at least 80% of its goals.

But now Rivian has until 2030 to reach those benchmarks.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development and Joint Development Authority of Jasper (JDA), Morgan, Newton and Walton Counties added that the amendment makes no change to the value of the $1.5 billion incentive package offered to Rivian. The amendment’s closing date is Nov. 1.

“This type of update happens frequently in economic development projects, especially in the size and scale of this investment as projected totals meet the realities of development,” the agencies said in a joint statement.

Rivian and state officials announced in late 2021 the massive EV factory slated for an 1,800-acre plot in southern Morgan and Walton counties. Initially, the factory was poised to open in 2024, but that timeline was pushed back amid legal disputes over its incentive package.

In the midst of his reelection campaign, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp celebrated Rivians plan to build a $5 billion factory in northeast Georgia. Democrats joined him, but he saw resistance from some fellow Republicans, including his opponent in the GOP primary, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue. (Hyosub Shin/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Credit: TNS

In Georgia, local development authorities offer tax breaks via so-called “bond-for-title” transactions. In the case of Rivian, the JDA would hold title to the factory property and Rivian would lease it back. As the JDA is a government entity that does not pay property taxes, the JDA would pass along some $700 million in property tax savings to Rivian through 2047.

That arrangement was tossed into doubt in September 2022 when a local judge declined to approve it.

The state and JDA appealed the ruling, most of which was ultimately overturned by a Georgia Court of Appeals panel. The appellate panel preserved property tax breaks offered Rivian, however it found that the certain levies on specific equipment within the future factory would not qualify for tax breaks. It’s not clear how much more in taxes Rivian ultimately will pay.

The Rivian site is currently being graded, but vertical construction has yet to begin and no ceremonial groundbreaking has taken place. The factory is expected to open in 2025 and begin manufacturing a new line of Rivian crossovers in 2026.

“We continue to work closely with the state and our local and regional partners as we approach our formal groundbreaking and start of construction,” Rivian said in a statement. “We look forward to building the future of transportation together with a meaningful mission, thousands of good jobs, and significant financial benefit to the surrounding communities we now call home.”

Cox Enterprises, owner of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, owns about a 4% stake in Rivian.