This is a developing story that will be updated ...
NORMAL — Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday announced plans to create a $7.5 million electric vehicle workforce development program at Heartland Community College. The move comes as electric vehicle maker Rivian ramps up production in Normal.
"I'm just thrilled about the opportunity to partner with Heartland," Pritzker said during a press conference.
A dozen students are expected to take part in the first wave in the fall, said Heartland President Keith Cornille. The facility is expected to be fully operational by 2023.
The project will "transform Central Illinois into a hub of innovation," Cornille said, with long-term plans to develop advanced manufacturing training in the future.
State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, thanked the state for the investment into "education, into training, into jobs for the future."
Rivian is expected to have 1,800 workers at its Normal plant by June, when production is scheduled to start.
Rivian bought the former Mitsubishi Motors North America plant in Normal four years ago for $16 million and has been ramping up for production to start in June. The company last week finalized the purchase of 380 acres of farmland west of the factory.
Rivian was founded in 2009 by RJ Scaringe, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate. The company also is developing showrooms in Chicago, New York and suburban Los Angeles and is under agreement with Amazon to develop electric delivery vehicles.
Illinois has 27,282 registered electric vehicles, state data shows.
Pritzker on Wednesday also announced a new workforce training program at Southwestern Illinois College in the Metro East.