Helen Russell

Helen Russell, the chief people officer of Rivian Inc., speaks at the announcement of the company's plan to locate a plant in Social Circle, on Thursday afternoon, Dec. 16, 2021, in Atlanta.

Georgia isn’t wasting time in preparing to fill the 7,500 jobs Rivian is bringing to Social Circle.

The state Department of Education announced Monday it is creating the Electric Vehicle Career Pathway, designed to equip students with skills to enter the fast-growing industry.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday that Rivian Inc. is locating in the nearly 2,000-acre East Atlanta Megasite that straddles Morgan and Walton counties.

A portion of the plant site lies in Social Circle. The two counties plus Jasper and Newton counties invested in the Joint Development Authority that owns the plant site.

Construction is expected to begin this summer, with production starting in 2024. The plant is expected to have the capacity of producing 450,000 vehicles a year.

“As educators, it is our responsibility to prepare students for successful futures, so it’s essential that we mount a rapid response to emerging workforce needs within the state of Georgia,” state schools Superintendent Richard Woods said in a statement Monday.

“The development of a new Electric Vehicle Career Pathway will continue to expand the career pipeline and ensure Georgia students have the opportunity to benefit from Rivian’s investment in our state.”

The Career, Technical and Agricultural Education staff of the Department of Education will work with industry representatives and educators to develop a pathway of courses that will prepare students for careers in the EV industry. That includes applicable coursework along with instruction in engineering, manufacturing, drafting and design and automotive technology.

That will begin in Georgia high schools, state CTAE Director Barbara Wall said, and she noted that’s “only the beginning” of the efforts.

“We are also considering ways to provide early exposure to careers provided at Rivian for our middle and elementary schoolers.”

The state said superintendents and CTAE in the Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton school districts, plus the Social Circle City Schools, are working to ensure close partnerships with the company.

Kenny Garland, the Jasper County schools superintendent, said his district is already looking forward to the opportunity.

“With 7,500 jobs expected to be located in the facility, our school system is excited to learn more about workforce expectations in terms of training and development in order to meet the labor demands,” he said.

Shane Short, the executive director of the Development Authority of Walton County and a recruiter for the JDA, said the workforce was a big draw for Rivian and other companies that have chosen the area recently.

“Our proximity to Atlanta and the availability of a large-scale workforce in our metro Atlanta counties helps us,” Short said Thursday after Kemp’s announcement.

Short noted that some of the workers will come from outside the four counties that comprise the JDA, but he hopes many will be local.

“We’re going to do our best to hire, as the governor said, hardworking Georgians,” Short said, “and help them get the jobs they need or want in our communities.

“I think we’re in a good place. I can tell you there will be a lot of people who will want to work for this company, and we’re excited about that.”

The state has already mobilized to prepare workers for jobs in the area. One of its incentives to land Baxter — now Takeda Pharmaceuticals — at Stanton Springs was a facility to train future employees for biopharmaceutical work.

The Georgia BioScience Training Center opened in Stanton Springs in 2015. It was the state’s first standalone facility dedicated to delivering customized workforce training for companies in the life sciences sector.

(1) comment


How many local (Walton/Morgan) residents currently work at the businesses in Stanton Springs?

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