Two years ago, the Mitsubishi manufacturing plant left the Bloomington-Normal community, to the dismay of many local residents, employees and city officials.
In 2017, Bloomington-Normal’s unemployment rate stood at 4.5%, which was slightly lower than the Illinois state-wide average of 4.7%.
The dismal news was replaced with high optimism when Rivian Automotive acquired the plant in 2017 with a plan to develop and produce electric vehicles, and at the same time hire at least 500 employees.
Two years later, Rivian has even better news for the Bloomington-Normal community. After securing a $700 million investment led by Amazon in February, followed up by a whopping $500 million by Ford, the company will no doubt bring an economic revitalization to the Twin Cities.
Rivian now plans on hiring 1,000 full-time employees in Normal by 2024. The plant will make electric vehicles, including its RIT pickup truck and its R1S sport utility vehicle. Both are scheduled to hit the market in 2020.
This past Sunday, Rivian showed off three of its electric vehicles with local residents showing enthusiastic support. At the same time, they invited job seekers to apply at the manufacturing plant.
At a time when unemployment wreaks havoc on the nation, the news of Rivian opening its doors could mean a tremendous drop in unemployment in the Twin Cities.
Many of those unemployed had been former Mitsubishi workers who felt loyalty to the company until it abandoned them.
There is no doubt that those laid off by Mitsubishi felt a sense of betrayal. Most corporations simply care about profits and shareholders.
They move their companies overseas due to cheaper labor costs without any remorse for the financial havoc they cost local communities and families. Rivian has come to the rescue of those betrayed by Mitsubishi.
But the positive news does not stop at job creation for those unemployed.
Gov. JB Pritzker was in attendance during the showing, and during his visit he stated that higher education institutions such as Illinois State University are crucial to Rivian, as graduates from ISU will ensure Rivian has the workforce it needs.
In an interview with WGLT, CEO RJ Scaringe stated, “When you look at the combination of manufacturing expertise, with the university system that’s here, we see ourselves in terms of pulling the right types of talent in.”
Bloomington-Normal and Illinois State University will now be a place and a home to innovation, economic prowess and technological advancement due to Rivian Automotive.
We can only hope that Rivian and other companies continue to invest in our economy and our community and don’t leave us behind.