Gov. Bruce Rauner is expressing disappointment with some aspects of the progress of the Rivian Automotive plant in Normal.
The automotive company purchased the former Mitsubishi Motors North American plant in January 2017, with the aid of millions of dollars local and state incentives.
At a Springfield press conference on tourism, a reporter pressed Rauner on statements made last week about no one being willing to buy the plant, despite the fact the governor was present at Rivian's announcement.
"That plant should have well over 1,000 people today. And that plant should have brought hundreds of millions of dollars today," said Rauner in response to a question about the statement being a falsehood. "We had to basically cut a deal on the hope, on a gamble that it might work out. And it’s the best we could do and hopefully that will become successful someday. But that should be generating tax revenue already today and should be hugely successful over the last five years."
Rivian currently employs 40 people, with plans to eventually employ up to 1,000 workers. The company's local and state tax incentives are tied to how many jobs it creates over the next several years.
"Rivian is excited to be part of the Bloomington-Normal community. We purchased the 2.6 million square foot automotive manufacturing facility and its contents in 2017 for $16 million in an all cash deal and only received performance based incentives for future job creation and investment. Rivian has exceeded our target job creation numbers for 2018 and we are on track to continue plant improvements and bring the plant up to full working order to produce our first vehicles which will go on sale in 2020," said a Rivian spokesperson in response to Rauner's comments.
Governor Rauner's spokeswoman had the following comments on this article.
"The story takes out of context an exchange between a Springfield reporter and the governor. The reporter asked about the governor’s comments at a forum in Chicago last week. The governor was clear that his fight to lower taxes and make Illinois’ jobs climate more friendly is about creating jobs and helping families. He works for that goal every day," said spokeswoman Rachel Bold. "If successful in that effort – Rivian and all companies in Illinois will be even more successful. We believe Rivian is on track to bring the plant up to full working order. We are grateful for their investment in Illinois and partnered with them to provide an EDGE tax credit to help them grow and fully utilize the space vacated by Mitsubishi. We’d like to see more jobs."
Bold later sent a link to the following interview on WJBC Wednesday night, where Rauner said his comments were taken out of context.
"What some of our political opponents are taking out of context is my concern that our regulations and our taxes are not competitive and attractive for manufacturing firms, especially auto companies. The auto industry is booming around the country especially in Indiana and other states. We are not booming like they are we had a hard time finding someone to take that Mitsubishi plant. It had 1,000 UAW workers there and I want tens of thousands of UAW jobs created in Illinois, but our regulations and taxes are pushing us out," said Rauner."So we took a gamble with Rivian, they’re at 40 employees, which is awesome, they hope to add hundreds and we gave them EDGE credits to do it, but it’s frustrating because if we had better competitiveness as a state, we could already have thousands of jobs working in and around that facility. That’s, that was the point I made and it’s being spun, I think, in not a valid way."
Rauner also commented upon the "1,000 employee number," calling Rivian a start-up which has nothing to do with the thousands of jobs. Rauner said he was referring to Mitsubishi. The governor said he hasn't looked at their latest benchmarks for job creation.
"Different issue what could have been in the plant if we were competitive, that was the point I’m making," said Rauner to WJBC.