Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe made it abundantly clear that the community is much more important during these uncertain times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He shared that the startup electric automaker will not be taking advantage of the $1 million grant from the town of Normal, Illinois. Normal owes Rivian the money as part of an earlier agreement that was set up when the automaker bought the shuttered Mitsubishi automotive plant in the town.
Scaringe told WGLT.org (NPR from Illinois State University):
“The impact of COVID-19 has reminded us all of the importance of community. The main asset of any community is its people, and as resources stretch thinner for every community across the world, we want to do whatever is possible for a pre-production company in our position to help alleviate pressure on our home.”
The information originally came from a letter Scaringe penned to the Normal Town Council. He pointed out that Rivian has received billions in investments and support from the likes of Ford, Amazon, Cox Automotive, T. Rowe Price, and Black Rock. Normal promised $1 million back in 2016, as the first group to support Rivian financially.
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The automaker had to make certain investments and meet specific criteria in order to receive access to the grant. Reportedly, Rivian has qualified for the funds, but in an act of kindness, compassion, and understanding, Scaringe has made it public he will not accept the money. According to WGLT:
"To get the $1 million town grant, Rivian was required to invest $20 million into the plant by 2022. It’s already done that. (Rivian actually plans to invest over $750 million into the plant over the next 18 months.)"
In the letter, Scaringe also mentioned how skeptical some were about Rivian early on. He noted that Normal trusted the automaker, regardless of doubts. Rivian couldn't have succeeded as it has so far without the town's trust and support.
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