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tesla gigfactory golden driller tulsa
(ThaiTum/Wikimedia via Creative Commons)

Tulsa's "Golden Driller" statue was given Elon Musk's face in May.

Austin may be at the front of the pack to land the next Tesla "Gigafactory," but CEO Elon Musk just demonstrated that the competition is far from over.


Musk visited Tulsa—Austin's main rival—last week, where he met with Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and Secretary of Commerce Sean Kouplen. "We have the challenge of Tulsa being less known than Austin and getting his team comfortable with us as their potential site," Kouplen told the Tulsa World.

The visit followed months of speculation over which city Tesla will choose to locate its next Gigafactory, which will manufacture the company's Cybertruck and promises at least 5,000 new jobs.

What Tulsa offers

Tulsa promises an economic incentives package, pro-business climate and established manufacturing workforce, but terms of the package are considered confidential under state law, making it impossible to compare its offerings with those on the table in Austin.

When asked for more details about the incentives, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce declined to comment.

Tulsa's biggest asset may be naked enthusiasm about the project—as evidenced by multiple social media campaigns, including Tulsa Says Yes, Austin Says No, #Tesla4Tulsa and Big F*cking Field, which touts the benefits of a 1,500-acre site and offers it to Musk for a refundable $100 deposit.

During a June 30 town hall, Tulsa Regional Chamber President and CEO Mike Neal said one of the biggest differentiators between his city and Austin is attitude. "We really want Tesla bad," he said. "We really, really, really want them and are going to do everything we possibly can to lure them here."

What Austin offers

Rohan Patel, Tesla's senior global director for public policy and business development, told Travis County commissioners that Austin "has risen to the top in our search" because of its diverse workforce, the proposed factory site in Southeast Travis County and a potential partnership with Del Valle ISD.

But Patel also said the incentives—a 10-year, $68 million deal with Del Valle ISD and a 20-year deal of an undisclosed amount with Travis County—are necessary.

There is enthusiasm for the deal in Austin, but union officials and concerned residents have also asked officials to consider the company's spotty history of reneging on incentives agreements, workplace safety and employee protections.

Amid the competition, two websites—Tulsa Says Yes and Austin Says No—have sprung up, detailing Austin's resistance to Amazon's HQ2 and Apple's second campus in Williamson County.

When Gov. Stitt tweeted a link to the former on June 30, it prompted a response from Musk.

"Wow, I've never seen this level of support!" he wrote. "Out of respect, seems like I should at least visit."


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