The CEO of Rivian Automotive calls the community surrounding the Mitsubishi Plant "something special."
R.J. Scaringe said Rivian personnel first came to Normal to consider buying equipment from the plant at a planned auction. He said after spending time in Bloomington-Normal, it became apparent the company should move to Normal.
He said one board member, with a strong manufacturing background, told him he wanted to spend time in the community before touring the shuttered factory.
"So he said 'I want to drive around town, I want to spend some time in restaurants, I want to get a feel for the area,' because that has to do with how we're going to recruit and has to do with the attitude around the plant," said Scaringe. "Before he even saw the facility he said 'Boy I have a really good feeling about this place.'"
Scaringe said he found a higher level of energy and level of progressive thinking in Bloomington-Normal than in other Midwest communities with closed plants Rivian was considering.
"We've had a team of people here understanding the community and certainly one of the thing we saw was this sense of forward thinking and this sense sort of desire for progress, desire for growth," said Scaringe.
Scaringe said the size of the plant will allow may of the companies suppliers to occupy parts of the plant, along with entrepreneurs in the community who need a work space or even a "making space." Scaringe said he'd like to leverage parts of the Mitsubishi plant for the so-called makers movement, within the entrepreneurial community.