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Texas Gov. Rick Perry waves to guests after concluding remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) opens in Oxon Hill, Md., March 7, 2014. (REUTERS/Mike Theiler) Texas Gov. Rick Perry waves to guests after concluding remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) opens in Oxon Hill, Md., March 7, 2014. (REUTERS/Mike Theiler)  

Texas Gov. Rick Perry Wants Tesla In Texas

Giuseppe Macri
Tech Editor

Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry swung into California’s Sacramento capital this week behind the wheel of a Tesla Model S — the world’s top-selling electric car, which he soon hopes will sport a “made-in-Texas” bumper sticker.

Decked out in a polo, blazer and sunglasses, Perry – who was in California to attend political fundraisers for Republican state and congressional candidates – said he enjoyed driving the Tesla, according to the Los Angeles Times, and made no secret of his intention to nab a Lone Star State locale for CEO Elon Musk’s new battery factory.

Once completed, the new “Gigafactory” will be the biggest in the world – but where in the world has yet to be determined, as Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas all vie to bring home the 6,500 jobs it will create.

The governor claims credit for convincing Toyota to move its U.S. base from Torrance, Calif. to the Plano suburb of Dallas, along with 3,000 of its finance and marketing employees. Perry, who’s been accused of “poaching” businesses and jobs from other states, said he believes that ”competition between states is good for the country.”

Perry took time to show off the luxury Model S to television cameras while meeting with GOP lawmakers in the capital.

A spokesman for California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who enacted a $750-million business incentive program last year to keep companies and jobs in the state, declined to comment on Perry’s visit.

Tesla is currently based in Palo Alto and manufacturers the $70,000-plus Model S in a former Toyota assembly plant in Fremont. Brown along with California lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are working on more business incentives to persuade Musk to build his Gigafactory in the Golden State, and convince other companies to stay as well.

The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development announced this week 31 companies eligible to receive the first $30 million in state income tax credits under its new “California Competes” program.

“The recommended companies represent a significant impact to California’s economy in terms of new jobs and investments,” office Deputy Director Will Koch said.

The program has been authorized for a total of $150 million in incentives for the fiscal year that begins next month, and the first list of companies is expected to add 6,000 jobs and $2 billion in business investment.

Tesla will be eligible for some of those incentives if California gets its Gigafactory, and state senators Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat, and Ted Gaines, a Republican, are working on an additional package of perks to speed up the potential planning and building of the factory.

Perry’s case, however, suffers from the negative marks it earned from Tesla last year after the state banned the company’s direct sales model, effectively forbidding the sale of its premiere Model S in Texas. Under current state law, cars can only be sold through franchised dealers in Texas — not directly from the manufacturer, as Tesla does in multiple other states.

Earlier this year Perry said it was in the state’s “best interest” to revisit what “some would say are antiquated protections … for the car dealers,” according to Dallas News.

Perry said “the world’s changed,” asked lawmakers to have a “very open, thoughtful conversation about do we want to lead the country when it comes to manufacturing,” warning that a $5 billion manufacturing plant hung in the balance.

“I think it’s time for Texans to have an open conversation about this, the pros and the cons,” he said. “I’m gonna think the pros of allowing this to happen outweigh the cons.”

Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce President Gary Toebbin said the plant will go to the governor offering the best deal.

“Rick Perry is doing what Rick Perry does well. He makes it clear he wants business to locate in Texas,” Toebbin said. “In the end, it won’t be driving a Tesla car that wins the day. It’s who can put together the most complete package for Tesla.”

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