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No Tesla, but NM has more business prospects up its sleeve

Updated: 09/04/2014 10:27 PM | Created: 09/04/2014 9:06 PM
By: Danielle Todesco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

It's official.  Nevada won the bid for Tesla's multi-billion dollar gigafactory.  Nevada's Governor, Brian Sandoval, made the announcement New Mexicans didn't want to hear.

"We have reached an agreement, subject to legislative review, that will enable Tesla to build the world's largest and most advanced battery factory right here in the Silver State."

Tesla Motors chose to build the factory in Reno.  But the man who led the pitch in Albuquerque to get Tesla to choose New Mexico says they are working on several other projects that could help New Mexico forget about the loss of Tesla.

Gary Tonjes at Albuquerque Economic Development says they're moving forward with about twenty companies.  If they all go through, they could just barely equal the 6,500 jobs that the single Tesla factory would create.  Tonjes admits that Tesla was the biggest deal they have ever negotiated.    

In the very room KOB Eyewitness News 4's Danielle Todesco sat with Tonjes Thursday, he and his staff at AED met with Tesla officials repeatedly to barter a deal.   

"You selected us last time for this project, and we are a far more attractive place for business today than we were then," Tonjes told Tesla officials.

The first negotiations with Tesla in 2007 ended with the company choosing California over New Mexico.  Seven years later, New Mexico had another shot at bringing them here.  Once again, Tonjes led the discussions, along with state and city leaders to put together a package.

"Early in the process, our proposal was more aggressive than any of the other states," Tonjes said.

He says Nevada, along with Arizona, Texas and California all stepped up their game.  But he feels like the ultimate decision to go with Reno was mostly just about the city's proximity to Tesla headquarters in Fremont, California.  A four-hour drive between those cities can save the company a lot.

"I don't take it personally.  It's business," Tonjes said.

But he also says it is not over.  New Mexico's history with Tesla could put the state in the running for future projects.

"We didn't make it on this one, but I guarantee you we're going to be all over them for the next factory that they're going to build," Tonjes said.

Tonjes wouldn't say exactly what New Mexico's incentives were, but they included things like industrial revenue bonds and high-wage-jobs tax credits.    

Tonjes also can't name the companies the state is working to get here, but he says we will likely see the announcement of some new prospects for Albuquerque this month.


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