‘We’re keeping our fingers crossed.’ Gov. Kemp hopeful Georgia will land Rivian deal

ATLANTA — Thousands of jobs could come to our area, and Gov. Brian Kemp spoke exclusively with Channel 2 Action News about the possibility that the Rivian Electric Vehicle Company could be building a new plant to produce its new trucks and SUVs right here in Georgia.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported that Rivian is considering opening a plant along Interstate 20 in either Morgan, Newton or Walton counties.

If Rivian builds a plant here, this would be some of the biggest manufacturing news for Georgia in years.

There is no question electric vehicles are the future of travel and logistics. Some 20 years from now, most of us will not be driving gas powered vehicles.

Kemp told Channel 2′s Justin Farmer that Georgia is already well down the road to being a significant part of the transformation.

The EV world has come a long way in a short period of time, and Georgia is proving to be right in the middle of it.

New brands from Rivian to Lucid are joining Tesla, worth billions, while legacy brands such as GM and Ford are re-tooling to make battery operated cars and trucks as fast as they can.

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The rapidly evolving technology is directly affecting Georgia families.

“This is the future, is it not?” Farmer asked SK Battery employee Jessie Johnson.

“Absolutely. Cleaner, more efficient energy, which is friendlier to our environment, our atmosphere,” Johnson said.

Johnson is part of the new workforce at SK Battery in northeast Georgia. She and thousands of others are building the batteries that power Ford F-150 lightning trucks and various Volkswagen vehicles.

“It gives people a fair chance at better-paying jobs, training,” Johnson said.

Other ancillary businesses are becoming part of the EV ecosystem as well.

For example, German based Aurubis is building a $340 million copper recycling and melting plant in Augusta. That copper is a key component in the EV batteries. The project provides another 125 new high-quality jobs.

On the other side of the state in West Point, the KIA plant, here since 2006, is expected to start rolling out EVs before too long.

And then there’s the Rivian deal, reportedly to go well east of Atlanta if Georgia beats out other states such as Texas.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed. I mean, we put, I think, a good proposal out there, we’ll see what the company decides. But we got a lot of other things we’re working too, you know, we’re excited about the KIA expansion, they just announced. You know, you mentioned Rivian. We’ve got, obviously SK, but we got 20 something other parts manufacturers that are going in to automobiles, or the future EV,” Kemp said.

The significance of this technology evolution is akin to the dawn of the internet, says Emory University economist Tom Smith.

“I would point to a large number of acceptances in Georgia. You’ve got a Dutch company that’s making batteries, battery charging stations. We’ve got a Korean company that is making batteries. And so, there’s been a progression of Georgia being acceptant of foreign companies coming in and making at least electric charging vehicles or vehicle stations. And so I think this is the next step in that, is having an actual electric vehicle manufacturing facility in Georgia,” Smith said.

The state says the growth is just getting started in the EV game.

The Department of Economic Development is pushing a mega site near Savannah that will be ready to host another vehicle manufacturing plant.

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