Unit 5 Approves Rivian Giveaways Despite Financial Worries

Dec 15, 2016

Rivian Automotive CEO R. J. Scaringe and Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council CEO Kyle Ham address the Unit Five school board
Credit Mike Miletich / WGLT

The Unit Five School District in McLean County is the latest local taxing body to approve Rivian Automotive's tax incentive package.

Rivian CEO R.J. Scaringe spoke to board members Wednesday night about the educational opportunities Unit Five students could have with his company's technology.

Superintendent Mark Daniel said he is excited because Rivian relates to the district's goal to be innovative. 

"How do we bring real world into the classroom? How do we bring critical thinking and entrepreneurship, all the things we're about," said Daniel. "Now we have another anchor in our community to attach to."

Daniel said he is worried about Rivian receiving a total property tax abatement for five years. The district could lose close to $390,000 in property tax revenue per year over that span.

Daniel said Unit Five is struggling to balance its budget due to lack of state funding. This giveaway could make finances worse. He said community leaders need to help the district during this tough stretch. 

"If there's one community that does that so very well, it's the Bloomington-Normal area. When we do have a true need and the community believes it, this community is a very giving community that comes together to solve problems," said Daniel.

Scaringe and representatives of Rivian will meet with the McLean County Board next week.