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Good news for Mitsubishi plant?

Friday, Dec 9, 2016

* Pantagraph

A Michigan automotive company hopes to take over the former Mitsubishi plant in Normal.

Rivian Automotive is in talks to buy the entire 2.4 million-square-foot plant and manufacture there, bringing 500 jobs by 2021 and 1,000 when at full production, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced late Thursday afternoon.

The company expects to invest up to $175 million in the project by 2024.

Mitsubishi shut down production at the plant in November 2015 and laid off the last employees in May. The plant employed 1,200 before closing and about 3,000 at its peak. […]

An agreement between Rivian and Normal specifies that in order to receive [$1 million] incentives, the company must employ 35 workers by the end of 2018, 75 in 2019, 300 in 2020 and 500 in 2021. Those are “full-time employees with an average weekly salary equal to or greater than the average weekly salary in McLean County.”

The company started out in Florida then moved to Michigan when its incentive package ran out and Michigan stepped up with some cash. Its website has nothing on it.


Founded in 2009, Rivian is an automotive technology company developing an integrated portfolio of products and services to advance the shift to sustainable mobility. Backed by strong investors and driven by a team of passionate innovators, Rivian is creating solutions that redefine traditional automotive economics and remove the pain points of conventional ownership.

Yeah, I don’t know what that means, either. Supposedly, they’re trying to develop a low-priced but high performance sports car

Rivian Automotive, founded in 2009, develops and manufactures efficient sports cars. The company was formerly known as Mainstream Motors Inc., and changed its name to Rivian Automotive in 2011.


As of yet, there is no indication that any cars have been manufactured.

Let’s hope this works out.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Otto benz - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 9:50 am:

    Is Preston Tucker an investor?

  2. - Ducky LaMoore - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 9:50 am:

    Oh dear, a business is coming to a non RTW state?! The governor must be horribly upset!

  3. - Anonymous - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 9:51 am:

    Thanks Rauner

  4. - JS Mill - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 9:52 am:

    Back in 2011 Rivian said it hoped to produce a car by 2013.

    Not much info on this company.

  5. - Anon221 - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 9:53 am:

    I did the Intertubeweb thingee last night when this came out, and something just doesn’t seem to add up. Ruvian looks like they may just be staying one step ahead of state’s to get grants and various other monies, but not really delivering anything. This may be a case of “Carrier Fever”, and the need for DCEO and Intersect to try and show they are doin’ something. A much deeper dive is needed on this company. Hopefully Normal, Bloomington, and McLean County will proceed with great caution.

  6. - illinois manufacturer - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 10:02 am:

    Dont get your hopes up. I ot a brouchure on the auction. It was a fulky integrated car production facility….in other words you could take eaw materials and build a car…molds stampers to make metal parts…giant plastic injection molder…giant …if that suff is mostly there it tells you tge state of demand for cars and manufactured goods in general….that said this company has an interesting history with 3 states

  7. - frisbee - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 10:02 am:

    No press conference from Gov. Rauner? Perhaps they didn’t get the memo that the company wasn’t supposed to move here until after the Turnaround Agenda passed.

  8. - wordslinger - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 10:02 am:

    The google on Rivian, formerly “Avera,” doesn’t generate a lot of confidence.

    Seems over the last six years they’ve hustled both Florida and Michigan for handouts, and have yet to produce a prototype.

    But they have paid themselves nice salaries on the states’ dimes.

    And the CEO did land a Florida state rep. as a wife.

  9. - A guy - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 10:06 am:

    This would be good news, if there is any good news coming out of it. How does a car manufacturer become successful without manufacturing any cars? I mean, c’mon, 7 years, 2 states and ready to add a third state, and no cars?

    I hope it works out, but for now it’s a head scratcher.

  10. - Angry Republican - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 10:11 am:

    Looks like they are using the Tesla business model of snagging government handouts.

  11. - sulla - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 10:13 am:

    Good work by the folks in Bloomington-Normal. From the media coverage, it looks like they are putting clawbacks and performance benchmarks into the local incentive agreements. That should offer some protection for taxpayers in case the company fails to deliver.

    The vaporware concerns are valid - and there should always be healthy skepticism for any “revolutionary” startup business that pops up out of nowhere.

    However, there is no way this deal would have gotten this far without the local and state principals seeing viable product/sales contracts/financials from Rivian.

    Trust me, the last thing any economic developer wants is to have to go back to 11 different taxing bodies hat-in-hand and explain to the board that the business isn’t going to live up to their incentive agreement.

  12. - wordslinger - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 10:20 am:

    –Trust me, the last thing any economic developer wants is to have to go back to 11 different taxing bodies hat-in-hand and explain to the board that the business isn’t going to live up to their incentive agreement.–

    Seems that’s exactly what has happened with these guys in Florida and Michigan.

    They’ve received millions in taxpayer money and haven’t produced a website, much less a car.

  13. - A Jack - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 10:22 am:

    Translation: We will build you an imaginary car so you don’t have the maintenance pain of owning a real one.

    But I do wish them good luck. And if they do actually build a car, I would consider buying one.

  14. - Anon - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 10:23 am:

    Looks sketchy to me. Like Rich said, let’s hope this works out.

  15. - Threepwood - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 10:45 am:

    –However, there is no way this deal would have gotten this far without the local and state principals seeing viable product/sales contracts/financials from Rivian.–

    What they see and what’s actually there can be two very, very different things. Especially when someone wants you to see something.

    Given his track record and how little in the way of actual assets this Scaringe guy seems to have, I suspect his actual business model is to milk tax incentives and desperate hopes for a few years’ salary before walking away without any real obligations and moving on to the next town.

    “Oh, you’ve never made cars before, but you’re going to make an industry-beating car that violates the laws of car physics (fast/cheap/good, pick two), in mass quantities to employ 1,000 workers, in well under a decade? Ok. Ask Apple how that went. Ask Elon Musk what it cost.”

  16. - RNUG - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 10:48 am:

    I agree it looks iffy but they might have been stringing everyone along waiting for some Federal rules changes.

    The Low Volume Vehicle Manufacturing bill that was passed this year does encourage small start-up manufacturing of old models of cars without having to meet all the new federal standards. I have a friend who started up such a business (not in Illinois but another highly regulated and taxed state) a couple of years ago in anticipation of the federal changes. He has yet to produce a single new car, although he has produced parts for the original cars, restored original models, sold them, managed to put together the supply chain for the new car, obtained the trademarks and other rights, etc. Clay design models exist, as do lots of drawings. He figures he is still a couple of years away from production of new cars. I should add he isn’t using government grants; he already had a long term successful automotive business and this new venture is just a sideline to it, one he hopes will be profitable but he doesn’t expect an overnight success. I will also note I know of a couple of other companies working to revive old brands.

    It takes a lot of work to put together a new car, even if you just copy an old design. So while I’m skeptical, there might actually be a design team and some intellectual property behind this company. Time will tell …

  17. - hisgirlfriday - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 10:55 am:

    Here’s hoping this thing works out. Not terribly optimistic given the back story on these folks but hoping it works out and glad people are trying to make something happen.

    Ruins my plan for JB Pritzker to buy it and get a Tesla plant there as part of an election strategy though. ;)

  18. - Dirty Red - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 11:00 am:

    A community investing in its infrastructure, paying good wages, with affordable housing, a quality education system, a large public university in good standing (plus Wesleyan), and access to three interstates is able to attract business to a 20-year-old facility adjacent to a rail yard, whose prior occupant was a poorly marketed brand. This serves as no surprise, but is good news nonetheless. Nice job by the people on the ground.

  19. - RNUG - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 11:01 am:

    Adding, there is a company in Indiana, AM General, producing a vehicle called the MV-1. That car started off as nothing more than a design team and some marketing research people. They eventually got a prototype built, then contracted with AM General to produce them. (AM General is best know for producing HumVees and H2’s but they also build for other big car companies under contract.) Anyway, the company that designed the MV-1 went broke, but AM General ended up buying their intellectual property, and continues to build the vehicle for the handicapped transport market.

    Bottom line: it’s a long shot, but companies can bring new cars to market and succeed.

  20. - sulla - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 11:07 am:


    Exactly - that’s why I suggested that the principals have surely seen things that us in the public have not. Because it would be crazy to bring this deal forward with anything less than full confidence in the project given the spotty background of the company.

    Those guys in Bloomington-Normal aren’t stupid - they realize that they are personally/professionally on the hook for this project if it turns out to be vaporware. The public backlash that occurs when one of these megadeals blows up can be massive and career-altering for the ED people and elected officials involved.

    And with a deal this size using the kinds of incentives they’re using, you’re talking about the city manager, mayor, county board, school board, community college, township, etc. all who have to greenlight this to get to this point.

  21. - Rich Miller - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 11:13 am:

    === the principals have surely seen things that us in the public have not===

    Yeah. OK. Same guys who just gave a subsidy to Portillo’s for a restaurant? Lots of confidence there

  22. - wordslinger - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 11:24 am:

    –Exactly - that’s why I suggested that the principals have surely seen things that us in the public have not. Because it would be crazy to bring this deal forward with anything less than full confidence in the project given the spotty background of the company.–

    Well, there’s no shortage of crazy or conmen in the world. I guess we’ll see.

  23. - Threepwood - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 11:54 am:

    –they realize that they are personally/professionally on the hook for this project if it turns out to be vaporware–

    For a high-risk venture in a notoriously unstable and difficult-to-enter market? Sorry, I’m quite the optimist personally, but I think you’re putting me to shame. It’s a long shot with plenty of room for plausible-sounding excuses down the road, and the officials get to look like they accomplished something in the present. And Scaringe can go through the motions, hire a few people, put together some fancy brochures and prospectuses, slap together some mock ups or “prototypes”. And then blame the market, regulation, energy prices, whatever, when the time comes to fold. Seen plenty of investment scams like that, conning people into investing in a product that never had a chance of surviving on the market. And tons more “legitimate” ones that weren’t intended as scams, but were still structured such that the investors shoulder all the genuine risk on projects that no responsible person would actually have pushed.

    I have no doubt this deal is structured in such a way that Scaringe has no actual personal stake in this; that whatever he stands to lose, he didn’t have before he signed the deal. And it’s a huge long shot. This isn’t an established boutique auto company cautiously expanding its product range; this is a top-down attempt to make a lot of mainstream cars. That’s nearly impossible. The only one to do that in decades was Tessa and even they aren’t yet a long-term safe bet. I strongly suspect if they manage to make anything it’ll be small-batches of some kit car, Cobra replicas, an electric, etc. Maybe, if they’re really lucky, contract work for someone else (though I doubt it without an established manufacturing reputation) or selling the plant to an A-lister needing to expand.

    Don’t get me wrong; I’d love to see an awesome made-here product. But there’s way too much overpromise here, and this outfit smells all kinds of wrong.

  24. - OldIllini - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 11:58 am:

    ==to advance the shift to sustainable mobility==

    I read that as electric automobiles and light trucks.

  25. - Give Me A Break - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 12:01 pm:

    Good for them but I’m concerned their blueprint for their employee parking includes water troughs, hitching posts and hay bins.

  26. - walker - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 12:20 pm:

    Good job, provided we put the right devils in the details: e.g. No real cash until we see the real full time jobs.

  27. - Doug - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 12:22 pm:

    I’m sure if you dug into this company, they are selling Green Cards for “investment dollars”

    Another “car” company did this very same thing….but this one was very politically connected.

  28. - Bluegrass Boy - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 12:31 pm:

    Rivian is a scammer operation.
    Somebody will make money.
    But it won’t be blue collar workers in Normal IL.

  29. - Plutocrat03 - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 1:19 pm:

    Sketchy is a kind word for that activity based on what we see here.

    I hope the contingencies in the incentive agreement have been written by a s skilled non-governmental lawyer.

    Lots of companies trolling for government support.

    The plant is a great potential resource. How they find the highest and best use of the property.

  30. - Anon221 - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 1:21 pm:

    Here’s an article that includes cached links to Rivian’s old website-

  31. - Anon221 - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 1:24 pm:

    Rivian’s patent…

  32. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 1:27 pm:

    Rivian makes cars like the Rauner administration makes budgets:
    Set up shop and then demand someone else do your work.

  33. - Anon221 - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 1:30 pm:

    Apologies- the cached version of Rivian’s old website is on the capitolist site posted by wordslinger and others earlier. It’s worth taking some time and looking around in.

  34. - sulla - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 2:06 pm:

    “Yeah. OK. Same guys who just gave a subsidy to Portillo’s for a restaurant? Lots of confidence there.”

    Rich with all due respect, I think you’re comparing apples and oranges. There is a huge difference in the amount of risk between these two deals. Treasuries vs. junk bonds.

    Everyone knows that a new Portillos is going to print money being in proximity to Illinois State. Bloomington evidently wanted it badly enough to whip out the checkbook. While I personally think its unnecessary to throw incentive money at non-destination retail, there is a near-zero chance that Portillos will fail. The city will get their money back over time - with very little risk.

    On the other hand, throwing a ton of incentives ($1 million cash on the table!) at a recently-founded company with a spotty public history and no obvious product offering is borderline crazy.

    And hence, with the sheer volume of leaders that are involved with a deal this size…they can’t all be crazy. Ergo, there has got to be another side to this that the public isn’t seeing.

  35. - Henry Francis - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 2:13 pm:

    So a very speculative 500 jobs 3 years from now from a company with no track record of actually making anything, other than promises to states for incentives.

    Brought to you by the same folks who have given us the Turnaround Agenda and all of its forecasted benefits.

  36. - Anonymous - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 2:16 pm:


    “Sorry, I’m quite the optimist personally, but I think you’re putting me to shame.”

    Dude, I’m a local economic developer in an Illinois city not named Chicago. Optimism is about the only thing I have to keep me going.

    That and alcohol, I guess.

  37. - blue dog dem - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 2:18 pm:

    Seriously. You know my hatred of DCEO. (Remember they brought in an out of state non-union widget
    Company). But we just allowed Exelon to raise rates so we could maintain $157,000/employee. Old Blues math puts this at about $30k/ employee. If its only a mil. Que Sera.

  38. - wordslinger - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 2:20 pm:

    –Everyone knows that a new Portillos is going to print money being in proximity to Illinois State. Bloomington evidently wanted it badly enough to whip out the checkbook.–

    It’s a flat-out crazy corruption of government and capitalism to give taxpayer money to a Portillo’s.

    Trust me, I love Portillo’s. But I make that choice as a consumer, over many other choices in the market.

    How in the world is it reasonable to shell out taxpayer money for them? We’re not talking risky R&D here. Portillo’s could have just gone to a bank.

    That’s the sickness of government entities charged with “job creation.” They’re just expensive p.r. machines for elected officials.

    Look at the Exelon deal: $235 million a year, $156,000 a year per “saved” job, charged to four million consumers, for a company that banked $2.2 billion in profits last year, selling most of that energy out of state.

    It’s insane.

  39. - Anonymous - Friday, Dec 9, 16 @ 3:03 pm:

    Just wondering…is Blago involved in this enterprise?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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