Long read from Fortune about the selection of the Reno Nevada site. Long story short: Nevada’s package and the quick work and willingness of a brothel-owning politician and businessman sealed the deal.
Still, the victory came at an eye-popping price, generating criticism in the press. Nevada is paying more than $200,000 for each of the 6,500 direct jobs the gigafactory is supposed to create. “I read Nevada’s incentive package,” says former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who negotiated with Tesla for its first assembly plant. “They literally handed over Reno and Las Vegas, lock, stock, and barrel.” Richardson is quick to add, in a rueful comment that captures the bind that states find themselves in, “I probably would’ve done the same thing as Governor Sandoval. It’s a lot of jobs in a recessionary period. You create a new kind of economy in your state.”
For his part, Musk noted that Nevada hadn’t even offered the biggest package (San Antonio would claim that title). Low costs and high speed had carried the day, he said. “It’s a real get-things-done state,” Musk declared. “The biggest single factor was time to completion.”
By November, when Musk discussed the deal on an earnings call, he sounded exasperated with continued condemnation of the terms he had extracted from Nevada. Calling the deal a “super-good idea” for the state, he said the criticism “kind of bugs me. I thought we got an okay incentive package, given the scale, but not a super-huge one.”
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