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Tesla Gigafactory location: Tucson throws its hat in the ring, California out of the running

The city of Tucson, Arizona has made a formal proposal to become the home of the Tesla Gigafactory. Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said that the city has identified a potential site with access to the railroad mainline and interstates, and that the city could add tax incentives to those offered by the state.

“I look forward to meeting with Tesla officials and impressing them with what we have to offer,” said Rothschild. “Tesla’s founder wants to put men on Mars and power the world with solar. We are the home to the Mars exploratory mission at the University of Arizona and known nationally as the Solar City. I think Tesla will feel right at home in Tucson.”

Other Arizona leaders have also joined the welcoming committee. Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, who is running for governor, announced that he has sent Elon Musk an invitation to visit. “Tesla can join companies such as Intel, Boeing, Apple, Raytheon and Honeywell that have chosen to locate a substantial manufacturing presence in our state,” Smith wrote, adding that Arizona has a skilled workforce, business-friendly tax structure and quality education. “Regardless of where you might choose to locate within Arizona, you can be assured that infrastructure will be available to meet your needs.”

The planned 10 million-square-foot plant will require up to 1,000 acres of land, and is expected to create about 6,500 jobs. Tesla is also looking at sites in Nevada, New Mexico and Texas. Tesla wants to pick the site this year, construct the facility in 2015 and begin production by 2017.

Meanwhile, Tesla appears to have crossed California off the list, without commenting on the reasons. A spokesman for Governor Jerry Brown said that the state presented a proposal with several possible sites, but Tesla didn’t bite. “The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development maintains a strong partnership with Tesla and continues to work with them on future opportunities in California.”

The LA Times, for one, found the rebuff ironic, if not a little offensive, considering that Californians bought more than a third of Tesla’s production last year, and that the state’s pollution-control policies have allowed the company to rake in tens of millions of dollars from selling ZEV credits.

Industry analysts said that cost and politics are the main reasons Tesla is looking elsewhere. Land prices and wages are higher in California than in the other regions, said Michael Bernick, the former head of California’s Employment Development Department.

The automaker may also want to spread out a bit geographically. “Tesla wants to broaden its production efforts nationally to be less dependent on one state and its regulations and economic outlook,” said Thilo Koslowski, an analyst at Gartner Inc. “Tesla might also hope for the other states to make themselves attractive to the company by offering some incentives such as tax deferrals.”


Source: Los Angeles Times, Arizona Daily Star
Image: Arnold de Leon/Flickr

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