Rivian plant emerges with another court fight victory

By Dave Williams, the capital beat for the Walton tribune

Construction expected to begin in 2024

Rivian officials announced last month that Clayco has been selected as the construction company for the $5b billion project in Stanton Springs. Photo special to the Tribune

A Morgan County judge recently dismissed a lawsuit aimed at stopping the construction of a $5 billion electric vehicle manufacturing plant near Interstate 20 east of Atlanta.

When Rivian first announced its plans in 2021, the plant was the largest economic development project in Georgia history. But it was superseded in 2022 when Hyundai Motor Group broke ground on a $5.5 billion EV plant west of Savannah.

The lawsuit, filed by a group of nearby property owners, charged the state with acquiring the property and then leasing it to Rivian to avoid local zoning laws. Morgan County Superior Court Judge Stephen Bradley ruled that local zoning regulations do not apply to state-owned property.

The Georgia Department of Eco- nomic Development and the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton, and Walton Counties (JDA) closed on the bonds financing the project in November and executed a rental agreement giving Rivian long-term rights to the site. The state, JDA, and – more importantly – tax-paying Georgians have again prevailed in overcoming the latest attempt by a few individuals who are committed to opposing this generational project that will benefit countless Georgians,” the state and local agencies wrote in a prepared statement.

“It is a new year, and this ruling is a defining new chapter as we look toward a bright future of success with Rivian.”

Construction is due to begin soon on the project, which is expected to create 7,500 jobs.

The plant’s opponents have cited the impacts of increased traffic, litter, water contamination, and damage to local wetlands.

Opponents have not said whether they will continue with the legal challenge. Rivian also recently announced that Clayco has been selected as the construction company behind the $5 billion dollar project in Stanton Springs.

Vice president of facilities at Rivian, Tony Sanger, stated the collaboration between Rivian and Clayco is a symbiotic partnership that will propel the community forward.

“We have an ambitious goal to develop an eco-conscious facility that illustrates our mission of keeping the world adventurous forever,” Sanger said in a released statement.

“With Clayco’s dedication to developing innovative ideas and solutions, we are confident they are the right partner to ensure the Rivian plant is a shining example of sustainable manufacturing.”

The electric vehicle company has been a hot topic of conversation in the Stanton Springs area ever since it was first officially announced back in late 2021.

In November, the Joint Development Authority consisting of Newton, Jasper, Morgan and Walton counties and Rivian, closed on bonds to finance the electric vehicle plant, leading to this next step in the process.

Clayco is described in a press release as a “full-service, turnkey real estate development, architecture, engineering, and construction firm.”

The firm will handle primary construction duties for its 1800-acre complex, with Jacobs as its engineer of record and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) as its design architect.

The plant is expected to begin vehicle production in 2026 – creating 7,500 jobs in the pro- cess. Construction is slated to begin in early 2024.

President of Clayco’s industrial business unit, Anthony Johnson, seconded Sanger’s opti- mism and expressed his excitement in the partnership.

“It is an honor to partner with Rivian, a visionary leader in the electric vehicle industry,”Johnson said in a released statement. “At Clayco, we align with customers whose missions reach far beyond the walls of their facilities. We are proud to play our part in building a future that will help Rivian ‘keep the world adventurous forever,’ while also creating a workplace and community that will thrive for years to come.”

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