Why Reno, Nevada is likely to land Tesla’s $5B gigafactory

Northern Nevada is the front runner to land Tesla Motors’ $5 billion electric battery factory, though the California automaker is still talking to Texas, Arizona and New Mexico officials about incentive packages for the 1,000-acre site selection.

Multiple business and political sources say the Reno area in northern Nevada is the odds-on favorite to land the Tesla plant, which would encompass as much as 10 million square feet and employ 6,500 workers. Those officials asked not to be identified.

One real estate executive said Tesla may already be talking to Nevada officials about permits, zoning and land-use aspects of the gigafactory. The executive — who also asked not to be identified — said that is not happening in the other Southwestern states in contention.

One possible Nevada location for Tesla is the 5,000-acre Reno-Stead Airport. The airport has 3,000 acres available for development, a rail spur option and sits 15 miles north of Reno. It is the site of a former U.S. Air Force base.

Tesla needs plenty of land and railroad access for the plant, which will be powered by an adjacent solar and renewable energy field.

The Reno area has the advantage of being on the railroad to Tesla’s Fremont, Calif. assembly plant, and it’s closer than other sites under consideration — including ones in the Phoenix and Tucson areas.

Tesla officials did not respond to requests for comment nor did Reno-area economic developers.

While Nevada has a proximity advantage to Tesla’s Bay Area factory and could also offer tax breaks to Tesla, Texas and New Mexico could also offer big incentives to land the plant. Texas has used big incentives to grab automakers and technology companies.

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