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Local officials excited by Rivian announcement

NORMAL — Twin City officials said Thursday they’re excited Rivian Automotive is negotiating to buy the former Mitsubishi plant in Normal and bring in as many as 1,000 jobs. 

“It’s a mix of excitement and a sigh of relief for the amount of work that’s been going into this and trying to put this deal together,” said Normal Mayor Chris Koos. “The possibility for 1,000 jobs is really great news for the community.”

McLean County Board Chairman John McIntyre said in a statement, “The discussions with Rivian have been positive, and we are progressing towards the goal of bringing this investment to our community.”

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner said, “We’re obviously excited, and it’s great news for our community, for jobs and our continued effort to grow our local economy.”

“We made great progress across the board in both Bloomington and Normal. The only step backward really was the Mitsubishi plant closing. I’m very excited about all of this,” he said. “I’ve appreciated working on the Mitsubishi plant task force for the last year and a half.”

State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, said his “reaction was encouragement.”

“The proof will be in the pudding as far as more details, but think of the major accomplishment done by so many here: We have a company that has potential to take the plant over, to be productive in the plant and create more jobs for this community. That’s certainly a plus,” he said. “I look forward to helping incontinued roles that I can as representative.” 

State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, said Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council CEO Kyle Ham, Normal officials and the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity officials deserve “a lot of credit” for the announcement.

“This exciting new economic opportunity for the Bloomington-Normal area is result of some very hard work by a lot of people, and I applaud every one of them for that commitment to bring new jobs and new vitality to our community,” he said in a statement.

“We had always hoped that another automotive manufacturing firm would see the skilled workforce and great benefits of our area and take over the Mitsubishi site. … We welcome the interest of Rivian Automotive in McLean County and look forward to many years of a productive relationship.”

Rod DeVary, who was president for United Auto Workers Local 2488 during the plant’s final year, said that once completed, the deal “definitely will help our economy as well as hopefully getting some of the employment back at the Mitsubishi Motors (plant) for some of the individuals who have not yet found employment and are still looking.”

“It sounds like it would definitely be a good deal for the area and the economy,” he said.

Acting DCEO Director Sean McCarthy said in a statement, “Rivian will be investing in the future of Illinois when they choose to purchase this plant.”

“The auto industry is the fourth-largest employer in the state, and this investment gives Illinois a significant presence in the emerging electric vehicle market,” he said.

Jim Schultz, chairman and CEO of Intersect Illinois — a public-private partnership intended to spur economic development — said, “Today’s announcement is a perfect example of how Illinois could leverage the high-tech assets that already exist in the state to create new jobs.”

“Between the electric battery research being done at Argonne National Laboratories and the workforce educational initiatives at places like Illinois State University, Southern Illinois University and Heartland Community College, Illinois has the potential to be a major player in tech-forward automobile production,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, a Taylorville Republican, said in a statement, “This is great news for the Bloomington-Normal community.”

“We have always known that this community is home to some of the most-talented, driven workers right here in Central Illinois and this is reflected by Rivian’s desire to invest and create jobs here,” he said. “It’s also because of the diligent efforts led by the (EDC), Town of Normal and Mayor Koos, the McLean County Board, and the Illinois (DCEO) to recruit new employers to the area.”