Electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian Automotive’s 2021 decision to locate a $10 billion plant in Georgia dealt a blow to Fort Worth’s effort to attract the plant through a $440 million tax incentive package. The loss was one of three major job-creating sweepstakes that Texas has lost over the past 15 months.

If Rivian Industries Inc. chooses Fort Worth as the location for its $5 billion factory, it would become the second-largest employer in the city by 2027, ranking behind only American Airlines.

According to a presentation from the Economic Development Department to the City Council, the electric car company is in talks to build a factory in west Fort Worth. Rivian, which city officials referred to as Project Tera, would bring a minimum of 7,500 jobs by 2027.

“While nothing is finalized at this time, it is incredibly exciting that Fort Worth is being considered as a finalist for this project, which would be a phenomenal opportunity for our city,” Mayor Mattie Parker said in a written statement. Bloomberg News described Fort Worth as the front-runner for the plant.

The proposed project site for a Rivian factory at Walsh Ranch. (Contributed by Economic Development Department)

According to the presentation, Rivian plans to manufacture over 200,000 vehicles per year, some of which are for Amazon. The minimum average employee salary would be $56,000. The city and the state of Texas are working together to offer tax incentives that could exceed $500 million.

The Rivian plant would be one of the largest projects in the state’s history, according to the city presentation.

Current top employers in Fort Worth

  1. American Airlines Group Inc.: 9,900
  2. Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth: 4,348
  3. Cook Children’s Medical Center: 4,066
  4. Alcon Inc.: 3,300
  5. Falcon Pharmaceuticals Ltd. and Medical City of Fort Worth: 3,000 each
  6. Acme Brick Co.: 2,913
  7. RS Legacy Corp.: 2,530
  8. FTS International Inc.: 2,400
  9. ATCO Rubber Products Inc.: 2,070
  10. Mental Health Mental Retardation of Tarrant County: 1,700

“Fort Worth has a history of producing some of the most cutting-edge vehicles on earth, so we’re very excited to be a finalist for this project and look forward to continuing the process,” Robert Sturns, the city’s director of economic development, said in a written statement.

Kenneth Barr, former mayor and current chair of the Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth, said there are a lot of reasons a company like Rivian, based in Irving, Calif., would choose Fort Worth to build a factory.

One reason is Fort Worth’s geographic location  with equal travel time between the East and West coasts. The city also has good highway, airway and railway access.

In addition, he said, the city has a strong manufacturing history. Companies like Bell Helicopter and Lockheed Martin came to Fort Worth because of its geography and workforce, he said.

City leaders have identified economic development as a top priority because of job losses in recent years, including the closing of the corporate headquarters for Radio Shack and Pier 1. The jobs created by Rivian would have a multiplying effect, Barr added. 

“New developments, investments like this, will tend to attract others to make the same kinds of investments,” he said. “Any manufacturing company like this will attract suppliers to locate nearby.”

Top agreements in Fort Worth by investment amount since 2010

  1. American Airlines Headquarters in 2015, total minimum investment of $350 million
  2. Facebook data suite center in 2015, total minimum investment of $250 million
  3. Bell Helicopter Textron headquarter operation in 2011, total minimum investment of $235 million
  4. RadioShack Corporation in 2010, total minimum investment of $200 million
  5. Blue Cross Blue Shield data center in 2008, total minimum investment of $173 million
  6. GE Transportation manufacturing facility in 2013, total minimum investment of $155 million

The land being considered for the site is part of Walsh Ranch. Spokesman Greg Miller said the ranch is 7,200 acres, 1,600 of which are being used for residential development. The land being considered equals 2,000 acres.

The ranch is located to the west of where I-20 and I-30 converge. The residential development is north of I-20. The factory would be located south, on land already zoned for commercial and industrial use. Miller said it is unlikely those in the residential area would even see the construction.

Miller said the property also would be near the Union Pacific railroad, allowing for easy interstate and railway access.

All of these factors could bring the significant project to the city, which Barr said can lead to other benefits in the future.

“Most of all, it represents job opportunities, good paying jobs, with benefits I suspect, and that helps our economy,” Barr said. “And anything that makes the economy stronger is good for real estate.”

Rivian cars shown in a presentation to Fort Worth City Council.

Top agreements in Fort Worth by jobs

  1. Bell Helicopter Textron initial minimum 4,500 jobs by 2020, agreement made in 2011
  2. American Airlines headquarters created 4,279 jobs, agreement made in 2015
  3. ATC Logistics & Electronics created 2,279 jobs by 2016, agreement made in 2012
  4. American Airlines Integrated Operations Center created 1,300 jobs, agreement made in 2014
  5. RadioShack Corporation created 1,250 jobs, agreement made in 2010
  6. Cinram Wireless, LLC. created 1,225 jobs, agreement made in 2007
  7. Alcon campus expansion created 750 jobs by 2018, agreement made in 2011
  8. GE Transportation manufacturing facility expansion created 775 jobs by 2016, agreement made in 2011
  9. CUNA Customer Care Center created 500 jobs, agreement made in 2006
  10. Pier One created 450 jobs, agreement made in 2002

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Kristen BartonEducation Reporter

Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. She has previous experience in education reporting for her hometown paper, the Longview News-Journal and her college paper, The Daily...

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