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Aug 1, 2014 9:17 PM by Lauren Reimer

Does Tucson stand a chance at winning the Tesla 'Gigafactory?'

TUCSON -Tucson has a one in five chance of becoming the new home of a giant Tesla battery factory.

On Wednesday, Mayor Jonathan Rothschild sent the automaker a building permit, clearing the way for construction if the company chooses to sign it.

The speed at which the city issued the permit has one local business owner feeling left out.

"Back in 2005 with a business partner, friend of mine from high school, we build a little retail center with 6 little spots in it," said Joe Higgins.

Some time later, Goodwill wanted to lease one of those units. Higgins says it took 7 months for the city to give the 'OK.'

"I appreciate Tesla, we'd love to have them as part of our community, we need the jobs desperately," said Higgins. "But when you put these layers on top of layers on the local small business community, we get to the point where we don't want to do it anymore."

The city says the expedited permit to Tesla was a simply a symbolic gesture to show that Tucson is still on board.

"Even if Tesla does decide to choose Tucson, they're still going to go through the process of submitting their plans, getting them checked," explained Ernie Duarte, Planning and Development Services Director for the city of Tucson.

His use of the word 'if' needs to be emphasized. Tesla is considering four other cities too, and it's looking like Reno, Nevada may have a leg up over Tucson.

Wallet Hub recently took the largest 150 cities in the country and ranked them.

While neither are very high on the list, Tucson still sits above Reno for health and safety, and education and child care.

Reno on the other hand is more affordable, and has recovered slightly better from the recession.

Construction has already started on a site in Reno, but Tesla says that doesn't mean it will be the ultimate site of its new factory. That decision will come in the next few months.


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