State Economic Developers Honor JDA for Locating Rivian in Newton County Area


ATLANTE – The Georgia Economic Developers Association (GEDA) recognized the Joint Development Authority (JDA) for Outstanding Achievement in Location of Business in Georgia for the Rivian Project at the GEDA Annual Awards Luncheon on Monday, November 14.

The JDA of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties has been recognized for the planned project for a site that straddles the line between Morgan and Walton counties and includes part of Social Circle. Governor Brian Kemp publicly announced the project in December 2021.

Shane Short, Executive Director of the Walton County Development Authority and other key project leaders, received the award from Eric McDonald, CEO of the Haralson County Chamber of Commerce, and Benjy Thompson, President of GEDA and CEO of Bulloch County Development Authority.

Nearly 200 economic developers from across the state attended the ceremony at the Georgia Tech Hotel at Tech Square in Midtown Atlanta.

The GEDA Deal of the Year Awards recognize outstanding achievement in establishing or expanding new businesses in the state of Georgia that meet community economic development goals and involve significant support for community programs, such as the financial assistance or licensing, workforce development, state financial support, etc.

Rivian is an electric vehicle manufacturer that currently makes an electric pickup truck, SUV, and delivery vans for Amazon.

Its location was chosen because of its expected minimal impact on the environment without burdening local public services; the ability to recruit a large workforce; and its proximity to a major highway, a news release said.

Over 1,500 acres were purchased for this project and created the Stanton Springs North Industrial Park with a commitment to focus on advanced manufacturing, biopharma and high tech industries.

Rivian, JDA and the Georgia State government continue to work as a team to move the project forward. It will create 7,500 new jobs and 60% of the tax revenue will go to the four school systems in the county and the city of the social circle.

This is the 16th year that GEDA has rewarded major projects from the previous year.

In what has become an important part of the annual awards ceremony – GEDA recognizes recipients in four categories:

SMALL – a county with less than 25,000 inhabitants,

MID-SIZE – a county with a population of 25,000 to 100,000,

LARGE – a county with a population of more than 100,000

REGIONAL – any multi-county initiative

Winners were selected in three community categories: small, medium and large. Two regional prizes were also awarded.

Small: Fitzgerald and Ben Hill County Development Authority – Polar Drink

Mid-Sized Business: Bulloch County Development Authority – Aspen Aerogels

Large: Gwinnett Partnership – Intuitive

Regional: Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton – Rivian Joint Development Authority

Regional: Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority – Hyundai Motor Group

Other awards include Volunteer of the Year, the Rip Wiley Award for Professional Excellence, and Committee Chair and Member of the Year.

• Volunteer of the Year Award: The award recognizes an economic development volunteer for outstanding service to an economic development organization or community. This year’s recipient is Terry Stone of Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis County.

• Rip Wiley Award for Professional Excellence: Anna Chafin, Chief Executive Officer of the Bryan County Development Authority, was named the 2022 recipient of the award.

The award is named after H. W. “Rip” Wiley, who worked for the Georgia Department of Industry, Commerce and Tourism (now the Department of Economic Development) as director of the industry division upon his death in October 1978. It was created upon his death. in 1978 to be awarded to the person in economic development who best represents his spirit of excellence.

• GEDA Committee Chair and Member of the Year: These awards are presented annually to honor and recognize the outstanding performance of the Georgia Economic Developer’s Association through work on their committees.

This year’s Committee Chairman of the Year recipient is Robbie Bennett, Chairman of the GEDA of Development Authority Leaders and Executive Director of the Columbia County Development Authority.

For similar excellence, Liz Ely of the Savannah Economic Development Authority was recognized for her efforts at this year’s 2022 Committee Member of the Year Annual Conference.

The Georgia Economic Developers Association is a nonprofit association of professionals, volunteers, and supporters. The association provides networking and professional development opportunities for its members and supports public policies that promote the creation of quality jobs and sustainable economic development throughout the state. For more information, visit


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