Now that the controversial Rivian Automotive plant is out of local hands, the state of Georgia announced on March 14 the official creation of four committees tasked with overseeing the development process for Stanton Springs North, the 2,000-acre site between Rutledge and Social Circle earmarked for Rivian.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) is pledging to follow all local requirements concerning environmental factors.
“The State of Georgia has also agreed to ensure that this project follows locally required standards pertaining to water quality, groundwater recharge and runoff, and all local environmental ordinances. These requirements will be built into the overarching agreement between the State of Georgia, the JDA, and Rivian,” said a press release from the state.
“Additionally, conserving buffers, wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation around the site is a high priority for local partners. GDEcD is ready and willing to partner with local conservation organizations and area elected officials in pursuing this goal.”
Rivian Automotive plans to invest $5 billion to build up to 16 million square feet of a new plant, pledging to create at least 7,500 jobs and to churn out 400,000 electric trucks, SUVs, and delivery vehicles per year.
The four committees created by the state will address various areas of the development process, promising to seek public input along the way with open meetings in all four of the affected counties: Morgan, Walton, Newton and Jasper.
The four committees are Workforce Development, Local Business Engagement, Site Design and Environmental, and Quality of Life, with subcommittees on Civic Engagement, Public Benefits, and Land Conservation.
“GDEcD today shared the creation of four committees to ensure public input into a variety of factors involved in the planning stages of the carbon-conscious campus for the 7,500-job Rivian project at Stanton Springs North. Local and state committee members represent a wide cross-section of all four Joint Development Authority (JDA) counties, and volunteered or agreed to serve in this capacity. Meetings are being planned for each of the committees within the Jasper, Morgan, Newton, and Walton county area for ease of planning and public input,” said a release from the GDEcD.
“The state’s commitment included putting processes into place to allow area residents and stakeholders a strong voice in the planning process,” said the release from the GDEcD. “These committees are staffed by a cross section of state experts, local county representatives, and include members from the private sector and local civic organizations, as well as from Rivian.”
“This committee approach 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.”
Information regarding the dates and location of meetings will be available at www.georgia.org/rivian, along with committee assignments.
According to the GDEcD, “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.”
Some Morgan County representation on these committees include State Representative Dave Belton; Madison Mayor Fred Perriman; Rutledge Mayor Bruce Altznauer; Chuck Jarrell, director of Morgan County Planning Department; Shey Daniel, manager of the Madison-Morgan Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Virgil Cole, Superintendent, Morgan County Schools; Robert Trulock, President, Madison-Morgan Conservancy; Christine McCauley Watts, Executive Director, Madison-Morgan Conservancy; Joellen Artz, retired Rutledge citizen leading the anti-Rivian movement out of Rutledge; Pastor Lonnie Brown, president of the Morgan County NAACP; and Stephen Morris, Attorney, founding member of Morris Law in Madison.
A full list of committee members can be found at www.georgia.org/rivian.
“The four committees announced today 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,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson.
“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.”
According to the GDEcD, “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. They will be staffed by relevant State departments with appropriate subject matter and technical expertise and will be assisted by a combination of private and public sector representation. Meetings will be public, with appropriate advance public notice given.”
Joint Development Authority (JDA) Chairman Jerry Silvio praised the new committees, pleading the JDA’s intent to collaborate with the new state-controlled development process.
“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,” said Silvio.
“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.”
Workforce Development Committee’s mission statement is “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.”
The Workforce Development Staff lead is Mark Peavy, Assistant Commissioner, Secondary Education Initiatives, Technical College System of Georgia. Assistant lead will be Asher Dozier, Vice President of Economic Development, Newton County Industrial Development Authority.
The Local Business Engagement Committee’s mission statement is “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).” The Local Business Engagement Committee’s staff lead will be Hank Evans, Director of Project Implementation and Corporate Development for the GDEcD. Assistant lead will be Naceo Denney, the Area Manager for Georgia Power.
The Site Design and Environmental Committee’s mission statement is “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.” The staff lead for this committee will be John Eunice, the Deputy Director of the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The Assistant Lead will be Charna Parker, director of Walton County Planning and Development.
The Quality of Life Committee’s mission statement is “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.” Subcommittees include Civic Engagement, Public Benefits, Land Conservation. The Staff lead is Rusty Haygood, Deputy Commissioner of Community Development & Finance for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Civic Engagement Assistant is Kristen Miller, the senior Regional Director for the GDEcD. Public Benefits Assistant will be Beth Eavenson, a Regional Representative with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The Land Conservation Assistant is Rope Roberts, the Northeast Region Economic Development Manager for Georgia Power.