NM leaders blame proximity, tax code for losing Tesla

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - It’s official. Tesla is taking its $5 billion Gigafactory to Nevada.

It appears the Silver State offered up some big time incentives to lure the company there, tax breaks and incentives estimated at more than $1 billion over 20 years.

The anticipation was building, as New Mexico stood in the running along with four other states. Thursday, Tesla executives stood alongside Nevada’s governor for the big announcement.

“The world’s largest and most advanced battery factory right here in the Silver State!” Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval announced at a Carson City press conference.

“This Gigafactory will mean nearly $100 billion in economic impact to Nevada over the next 20 years, think about that,” Sandoval said, followed by a roar of applause.

The massive $5 billion battery plant will bring 6,500 permanent jobs to Nevada.

State and city officials in New Mexico say they pushed hard to get the plant here.

“Between my office and the city council, we had almost $30 million that we had available to bring Tesla in here,” said Albuquerque Mayor R.J. Berry, pointing out that kind of incentive package, in tax breaks and infrastructure offers, was unprecedented for the city.

“I think there’s some advantages that Nevada has over New Mexico still with tax codes,” Berry said.

Proximity posed a problem, according to Governor Martinez. The site outside of Reno is just hours away from Tesla’s car plant in the Silicon Valley.

“I’ll tell you what one of the members of the team said was you know, you have a great incentive package put together, is there any way you can move your state a little closer to California?” Martinez said at a press conference Thursday.

Martinez was asked what incentives New Mexico had offered up, which is something that has always been kept quiet.

“It wouldn’t be responsible for me to spell all that out right now,” Governor Martinez replied. “Why would you show your cards if there might be a second location?”

“For us to lay out the economic package is to tell the rest of the competitors what we had out there, and that isn’t really playing poker very smart,” Martinez added.

At Thursday’s press conference, Tesla CEO Elon Musk offered hints about why Nevada won out.

“It wasn’t just about the incentives. What the people of Nevada have created is a state where you can be very agile – where you can do things quickly and get things done,” he said. “It’s a real get things done state.”

Lawmakers in Nevada still have to sign off on the incentive package. The governor is expected to call a special session as early as next week to get the ball rolling.

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