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Jul 31, 2014 9:10 PM by Lauren Reimer

Tucson hopes to woo Tesla Gigafactory with building permit

TUCSON -Tucson is one of several sites trying to woo the electric car company, for a 'Gigafactory' to make batteries for its electric vehicles.

For the city of Tucson, the plant would mean jobs, 6,500 of them. A prospective that has those seeking employment very excited.

Over the years, Daniel Arriaga has watched friends and family members move away in search of jobs. "I think if they knew a bigger company would be coming to Tucson, it would give them more hope," he said.

For Arriaga and dozens of others, their day is spent online, scanning for openings they would be qualified for. "I've done valet, I've done a little bit of web design," said Arriaga.

Mayor Jonathan Rothschild hopes a 5 million square foot Tesla 'Gigafactory,' strategically placed on Tucson's south end, near the rail line, might be what the city needs to up employment numbers.

"Their company could change the face of this community," said Mayor Rothschild.

On Wednesday, the Mayor sent Tesla that message in the form of a $3 billion building permit, needing only the company's signature.

"It's really a way of keeping the dialog open with them and letting them know that we're serious about getting their business," said Rothschild.

And as of this morning, the company finally made its plans to build official, it just hasn't decided where yet.

Tucson, Reno, Nevada, and three other cities in California, New Mexico and Texas are all in the running.

"To have Tucson be part of the next generation of innovation in vehicle transportation, it would be a moment in history for Tucson to be able to attract an employer like that," said Startup Tucson CEO Justin Williams.

He believes even if Tucson loses, it still will have gained the attention of the rest of the country. "Being in the running as opposed to not being talked about, that's good news," said Williams.

Tesla Motors says it has already broken ground at a site near Reno, Nevada, as a possible location for its new battery factory, but is still evaluating other sites.

The company says it will choose the final location in the next few months. Construction would start this year, and should be completed in 2017. The company hopes to be producing up to 500,000 vehicles by 2020 with the help of the new Gigafactory.

There may be the potential for building more Gigafactories in the future.

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