Historic Heartland Base

This map shows the location of Stanton Grove, now known as Stanton Springs North, a sister development to Stanton Springs. Stanton Springs North is rumored to be in contention as the site of a new Rivian electric vehicle assembly plant.

COVINGTON — Speculation is growing on the potential for Rivian Automotive to build a facility east of Covington in the vicinity of the Newton, Walton and Morgan county lines.

According to media reports, Rivian, maker of electric vehicles, is in negotiations to build a battery and assembly plant near Interstate 20. The project could potentially be developed on the Stanton Grove property, which was acquired by the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Newton, Morgan and Walton Counties earlier this year.

Serra Hall, executive director of the IDA, said she could not comment on the speculation about negotiations with Rivian.

The IDA, the JDA and the county’s elected leadership have been working for the past several years to position the county as a contender for a large-scale development such as Rivian.

In February of this year, the Board of Commissioners agreed to back $16.1 million in bonds for the purchase of 600-plus acres near the Stanton Springs business park and install infrastructure for future economic development. The vote came after commissioners initially refused to back the bonds. Commissioners changed course after being persuaded by economic development officials that a deal for development of the property would soon be forthcoming.

The property, now known as Stanton Springs North, is considered a sister property to Stanton Springs, which is home to the Newton Facebook Data Center, which has a potential buildout investment of $42 billion. The Baymare data center, which was announced earlier this year, has similar investment potential. Biopharma giant Takeda, which was first developed in Stanton Springs as Baxter, has an investment value of $1.2 billion. In addition, the state has built a $14 million Bioscience Training Center at Stanton Springs.

If Rivian does decide to locate in the area, its investment could dwarf those developments in Stanton Springs. The auto maker already has one plant in Normal, Ill., where it began producing vehicles in September. The company, which just went public earlier this month, is valued at $120 billion.

Rivian reportedly already has orders for 100,000 Amazon delivery vans and is looking to move into the passenger vehicle market.

Rivian has been in negotiations with Fort Worth, Texas, for months as a possible location for its second manufacturing facility. According to the Dallas Morning News, Forth Worth was in talks this past summer with a company presumed to be Rivian to build a factory producing as many as 200,000 vehicles a year and creating thousands of jobs.

According to the newspaper, the Fort Worth City Council had approved more than $400 million in grants and tax breaks to secure the development.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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