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Can a booming city with a green economy be built to last?

When the factory cut production in the 2000s and closed in 2015, during the days of white-collar job cuts, Normal felt the pinch. Suppliers have left and many workers have left in search of new jobs. Uptown, an elegant brick-accented neighborhood with a restored 1930s theater and two suddenly oversized hotels, has become a monument to the city’s declining prosperity.

Local politicians and business leaders have embraced Rivian, who is based in California and has offices in other states, Canada and Britain, as a way to fill the void. But in a place that has undergone such changes of fortune, residents can be forgiven for wondering how long today’s good times will last.

Electric vehicles are less labor intensive than gasoline vehicles. And while Rivian’s outlook looks strong – he filed a public offer to purchase shares in August, seeking a valuation of around $ 70 billion – the company could be overtaken by a growing list of competitors. At some point, the spending madness will end and the local industry will rise or fall depending on whether Rivian can build up a significant customer base.

The initial foam is already dissipating. After reaching more than 200 employees earlier this year, Weber Electric has only around 100. – lights over construction.

In this way, the electric vehicle boom is sort of a microcosm for the broader transition to a low-carbon economy: as governments and investors invest hundreds of billions of dollars in green industries, there will be certainly a first shock. But will it last?

Not everyone at Normal has a connection to the Rivian plant, the company’s only production plant; it’s just like that sometimes. Sitting in the factory lobby one June afternoon, Katy Tilley, who helps oversee workplace operations such as site design and catering, said her younger brother, who had just left the Marine Corps, began working in the company the following week.

“My little brother works in the battery department! her colleague Laura Ewan, a community relations worker, intervened. “We were so different that our parents never imagined we were working in the same place.

nytimes Gt