SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. – More than a hundred people packed a Social Circle High School to tell economic development leaders they do not want an electric vehicle company to build a manufacturing plant in their community.
Residents say they feel planning was done in private, while project leaders said they had monthly public meetings about the site as early as last May that few people attended.
“We’re not getting any say in this, this was done at the state capitol,” said Tommy Wasendorf who has lived in the area for more than 20 years.
He says he left the Joint Development Authority’s (JDA) town hall to address questions about a factory that will stand at the Stanton Springs Industrial Park — an hour east of Atlanta feeling the same way he came in.
Walton County Economic Development director, Shane Short vows everything was done through protocol nondisclosure agreements to prevent competing companies from interfering with plans.
Other JDA members say there have been monthly public meetings to outline the process since mid-2021. The JDA says they recognize the public outrage that began when Gov. Brian Kemp announced the project at the end of the year.
“I’ve worked in manufacturing. I understand [non]disclosures are to protect companies,” Wasendorf said. “They don’t protect neighborhoods and communities.”
Last month, Kemp announced plans for a multi-billion-dollar Rivian plant.
Rivian produces Amazon electric vehicles. They’ve promised $5 billion investments and 7,500 jobs — with a starting salary of $56,000 a year.
Construction on the site should begin on the 2,000-acre facility this summer with its first cars being built in 2024.
The recurring question Tuesday night was “can this development be stopped?” The Walton County economic development director says it’s possible during the rezoning process, “but it’ll be difficult.”
About 26 property owners willingly sold their land for the development’s use and Short says no eminent domain was used to finalize the project but those at the town hall say they plan to research ways to prevent the plant’s construction.
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