Canadian Manufacturing

Nevada Legislature working overtime to land Tesla battery plant

Gov. Brian Sandoval ordered special session to consider US$1.3 billion in tax breaks, other incentives for Tesla

RENO, Nev.—Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has ordered the state Legislature into a special session to consider US$1.3 billion in tax breaks and other incentives for electric car-maker Tesla Motors, Inc. as part of “an extraordinary opportunity” to seal the deal for its US$5-billion battery factory and tens of thousands of jobs he says are needed to recover from the worst economic crisis in state history.

Majority Democrats in the Senate and Assembly intended to open the session Sept. 10 to begin work on the package the Republican governor says would help further diversify Nevada’s hard-hit, tourism-based economy through new and innovative technology.

“An extraordinary occasion exists, which requires immediate action of the Legislature,” Sandoval wrote in the formal proclamation.

He said Nevada continues to “feel the effects” of the Great Recession—”the worst economic crisis in the history of the state.”

Sandoval said the so-called lithium battery “gigafactory” and its 6,500 workers would generate more than 20,000 construction and other related jobs and as much as US100 billion for Nevada’s economy over the next 20 years—a return on investment he estimated to be US$80 for every US$1 the state spends.

Little public opposition has emerged among lawmakers since Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced alongside Sandoval on the Capitol steps last week that Nevada had beat out California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico for the factory expected to open in 2017.

The proclamation doesn’t name Tesla but covers the seven categories in the blueprint his Office of Economic Development outlined last week when Musk said Nevada was the best fit for his venture critical to cutting costs for his next line of more affordable electric cars.

Lawmakers toured the expansive site at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center along Interstate 80 about 25 kilometres east of Sparks, Nev., and Assembly minority leader Pat Hickey (R-Reno) said he was prepping for “an all-nighter if necessary” after late-night briefings scheduled with the governor’s staff.

The special session was expected to begin Sept. 10 and could last days.

“How long it is going to take is anybody’s guess,” Hickey said.

Democrats said one of their priorities would be to make sure the jobs go to Nevadans at prevailing wages.

That shouldn’t be a problem at the factory where Tesla says hourly pay will average US$25 or more, but it could be a sticking point with some Republicans regarding the estimated 3,000 construction jobs projected to build the plant.

Mari St. Martin, Sandoval’s director of communications, did not respond to repeated telephone calls or emails seeking comment.

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