ATLANTA — Georgia’s $1.5 billion incentive deal with an electric car maker took a big hit in court, this week.
A Morgan County judge sided with people fighting against the 2,000 acre Rivian EV plant. Plans put the property on three counties east of Atlanta.
The judge said Thursday, they failed to prove the project would work for everyone. The judge also chastised the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton, and Walton counties for not doing its due diligence to determine whether Rivian is financially viable.
“The JDA has put the issue of the Project’s economic feasibility squarely before the Court and therefore it bears the burden of proving the same — a burden which it has not carried,” Trammell wrote. She went on to say the JDA has not “put forward sufficient evidence demonstrating that the Project would promote the ‘general welfare within the territory of the Authority.’”
Rivian and state leaders have anticipated a ceremonial groundbreaking in the coming weeks, and it’s unclear whether this ruling could delay construction of the planned $5 billion factory along I-20 east of Atlanta. Georgia and local leaders near Savannah struck a similar incentives agreement with Hyundai for another massive EV factory in Bryan County, but officials said Friday they did not think the Rivian ruling would impact that project.
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The state of Georgia offered Rivian the use of 2,000 acres of land essentially for free through 2047. As part of the deal, the JDA entered into a long-term rental agreement on the property where Rivian plans to employ 7,500.
In a statement, the JDA and the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) said the agencies were “currently assessing all legal options.”
“As the entire country is looking to revitalize and grow domestic manufacturing, protect American jobs, and secure the country’s economic independence, we are disappointed and respectfully disagree with Judge Trammell’s decision,” the statement read. “This is a transformational project for the people of this community, the State of Georgia, and the United States of America.”
The statement said the JDA and state “intend to work with Rivian to move this project forward and see it through to completion.”
A Rivian representative declined to comment. The JDA is expected to appeal this decision.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this article.
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