Gov. Bruce Rauner was making his case in a radio interview last week about the need for a better business climate in Illinois, but an example he used was at odds with his own visit to Normal last spring.

“I want every kind of job, and I want higher incomes for every family,” Rauner told host Tom Miller on Carterville-based WJPF, a station that bills itself as the voice of southern Illinois.

“I was talking to a UAW (United Auto Workers) member up in Bloomington when Mitsubishi closed that plant,” Rauner said. “They shut it down, and I tried to find another auto company to buy it. But no auto company wants to invest in Illinois because of (House Speaker Michael) Madigan’s power, because of regulations and the taxes.”

Rauner said he told this worker: “I can’t give this plant away and I want to protect your job. ... I want to keep every UAW job in Illinois.”

According to Rauner, that worker said he was moving to Texas, and Rauner claimed he tried to talk him out of it.

“I said, ‘Why you moving to Texas?′ ” Rauner said. ”‘That’s not even a union-friendly state.’ He said, ‘I’m going there ‘cause that’s where the jobs are.’

“And that’s the problem,” Rauner continued. “Texas is taking our jobs. Indiana is taking our jobs. Tennessee’s taking our jobs. And we are bleeding out. And we’ve got to change it. How do we fix it? Get Madigan gone. Get the regulatory relief on our businesses, and lower the tax burden so we’re competitive and thousands of jobs will flow back to Illinois.”

What Rauner didn’t mention: After the Mitsubishi plant in Normal closed in 2016, it was ultimately purchased by Rivian Automotive, which plans to build electric vehicles there.

Not only that, but the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which is under Rauner’s purview, reached an agreement with Rivian in December 2016 to provide Rivian with up to $49 million in Economic Development for a Growing Economy state tax credits, over 15 years, if goals are met. Those goals, under the agreement, include creation of 1,000 new full-time jobs by the end of 2024.

Rauner visited the plant on March 7, and his office issued a news release headlined: “Governor Celebrates Rivian Automotive Opening.”

“We’re excited Rivian has chosen Illinois to call home,” Rauner was quoted as saying. “It is built around innovation and is an example of the future we are building. We’re working to bring common-sense reforms that will help Illinois become even more competitive.”

The release said Rivian was investing $175 million “and will bring more than 1,000 jobs to central Illinois once the company’s first product reaches full volume.”

Patty Schuh, spokeswoman for Rauner, said via email that in the radio interview, Rauner “was clearly discussing a story from the time when the plant closed."

“Since then, the Rauner administration partnered with local officials to aggressively market the vacant plant to find a buyer and job creator for the region,” she said. “We were ultimately successful and appreciate Rivian’s investment here in Illinois despite the challenges.”

Normal City Manager Mark Peterson said he attended a meeting Rauner had with R.J. Scaringe, CEO of Rivian.

“He was very engaged, asked a lot of excellent questions,” Peterson said of Rauner. “As a venture capitalist himself, and as an investor in business, he said, ‘This is fascinating, very exciting.’”

Peterson also said that Rivian officials were asked if “there was anything with the state that was a deterrent.

“They said no. In fact, they were very complimentary of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. ... Everybody at the state level, they said, was very helpful.

“I don’t think Illinois’ tax structure was a significant consideration,” Peterson said. “At least they didn’t indicate to us that that was a concern.”

He said he believes Rivian had been looking at plants in Indiana and Ohio, and that Rivian officials first came to Normal to view equipment for sale. But in the visit, “the plant sort of captured their attention. ... And they brought the CEO out to look at the plant, and he also felt, ‘This is ideal for our operation.’ They were very intrigued. They were very impressed by the community, in Bloomington-Normal. And the stars aligned.”

Now that a year has passed, Peterson said, Rivian realizes Mitsubishi left good equipment in working order in a facility with very little deterioration.

“They really feel they’ve made a good decision,” Peterson said.

Normal and other taxing bodies have also offered tax incentives based on investment and employment benchmarks, according to Peterson. He said the plant is so large that some suppliers may be embedded there, and Rivian will also make batteries there for its own cars and to sell to other makers of electric cars.

Among benchmarks to get Normal’s tax break, Peterson said, is having 1,000 employees by the end of 2019.

“They were very comfortable saying that they would hit 1,000 jobs, and these jobs by agreement have to have average annual compensation of $50,000 or more,” he said.

Peterson said Rivian has about 20 employees at Normal now, and expects to hire 15 or 20 more in January. He said the company wants to begin trial production in mid-2019, with probable production of vehicles for sale by the final quarter of 2019.

The first vehicle will be “a pickup truck of sorts,” he said, to be followed by a sport utility vehicle on the same platform.

The vehicles are designed to be driverless.

“There’s different levels of autonomous vehicles,” Peterson said. “The first generation, what they produce in 2019, will still have a steering wheel. But it will have all the technology that you can flip a switch and just have it drive itself. They believe the second generation of vehicle that they produce there probably won’t even have a steering wheel.”

After being told what the governor told a southern Illinois audience last week about the alleged lack of a buyer for the Mitsubishi plant, Peterson said: “He must have forgotten.”

Steve Brown, spokesman for Madigan, said some of the things the governor has cited as accomplishments are things Madigan supported.

Concerning Rauner’s talk about Rivian, Brown said, “The governor likes to tell half truths or untruths all over the state. It’s catching up with him. And we’ll hopefully be past all this either in March or November.”