Just before Christmas in 2021, champagne bottles could be heard popping open all across the state of Georgia as electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian announced it would build a positively gargantuan assembly plant in rural Social Circle, about 45 minutes outside of Atlanta. According to governor Brian Kemp, it’s the largest economic development project in state history, eating up 2,000 acres of land and planning to employ as many as 7,500 once fully operational. The total cost of the Rivian plant project is projected to be to the tune of $5 billion.
But not quite everyone is quite pumped about the project – like many of the residents of Social Circle, who fear that life in their quiet, isolated refuge will soon change forever. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke to several residents who expressed displeasure at their incoming corporate neighbor, and plenty of frustration with the way that the state and local governments have handled things so far.
Negotiation Tip #1: Do It In Secret
At issue is the apparent secrecy with which the state of Georgia and the local Social Circle government have treated the plans. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, residents say they are still having difficulty getting information on crucial concerns like how the water supply will be protected, how close the plant will get to neighboring property lines, and how much road traffic might change after the plant starts operation. The Rivian plant’s eventual workforce of 7,500 will be one and a half times as big as the current Social Circle population.
Of the 2,000 acres of land proposed to house the new Rivian plant, about 55 percent is currently zoned for agricultural and residential use, and will have to be rezoned. Some might read that and infer that the land was really never intended to house a gigantic $5 billion electric vehicle factory.
One site plan published by economic development officials reveals that the Rivian plant site could house a dozen buildings with a combined 20 million square feet of floor space, plus all the other stuff that typically accompanies big factories: parking lots for cars and shipping, waste and recycling facilities, ponds to manage storm water, and new roads. In addition to that, the site will house “adventure” and test tracks, some 144 charging stations, and a delivery center.
The surrounding area is primarily populated with woods, farmland, and private residences.
So far, efforts to arrest or scale back the Rivian plant development plan have shown little promise. Residents of the neighboring town of Rutledge have started a group on Facebook called “Our Communities Oppose Rivian Assembly Plant,” which as of this writing has some 2,000 members. But the local government is still maintaining something of a veil of mystery over the development. Last month, a community meeting was canceled, after an earlier meeting failed to assuage many residents’ fears.
It’s not known exactly what the new Rivian plant will build when it starts operations some time in the year 2024, but the electric vehicle manufacturer is thought to be aiming for a very truck- and SUV- heavy lineup beyond the Rivian R1T pickup and the Rivian R1S SUV. Both of those vehicles are already in production at Rivian’s Normal, Illinois factory.