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Electric vehicle startup to begin manufacturing in Illinois

October 14, 2019 GMT

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — Thousands of people attended an event to see prototypes of electric vehicles a central Illinois startup plans to create, an effort that already has the backing of officials through promised tax breaks and incentives.

Rivian Automotive held a public event Sunday to show the community of Normal and elected officials three vehicles it plans to begin creating at the former Mitsubishi plant, which the startup bought in 2017 two years after it closed.

The factory, which has already hired 200 employees, is expected to have more than 1,000 by the time the startup’s vehicles hit the market late next year. State and local officials are rallying behind the venture.

“Rivian is going to be one of the largest car companies in the world, and it’s going to be based right here in Normal— its manufacturing is,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Sunday. “I’m thrilled ... for the people of Normal and for Illinois that we have manufacturing that’s reviving in our state.”

Investors have been noticing Detroit-based Rivian’s potential. In February, Amazon invested $700 million. Two months later, Ford sank another half-billion dollars into the company, becoming a minority partner and gaining a seat on the startup’s seven-member board.

In Illinois, officials have promised the company would receive more than $50 million in state and local incentives for the factory in Normal if it meets hiring and investment targets, The Pantagraph reported. Most of the workers are from the community, including former Mitsubishi workers who are now overseeing the Rivian’s opening.

“We’re bringing new equipment in. We’re making changes to the layout of the plant, the lines,” Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said. “Once that’s set up, we’ll really start to ramp up, and that involves a lot of hiring. ... As the facility starts to get into full-line production, we’re talking about thousands of jobs.”

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, a Dunlap Republican, said after Sunday’s display of the company’s R1T pickup and R1S SUV he’s eager to help by promoting tax credits and investing in the workforce.

Republican state Rep. Dan Brady of Bloomington agreed.

“Anything we can do in the way of state incentives to help the production and purchase of these vehicles, we want to look at,” Brady said.

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Information from: The Pantagraph, http://www.pantagraph.com