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Tucson tries luring Tesla plant with $3 billion permit

Updated Thursday, July 31, 2014 | 3:11 p.m.

TUCSON, Ariz. — Tucson officials are hoping a pre-approved building permit will help persuade electric car company Tesla to build its planned battery plant in the city, the mayor said Thursday.

Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said Tesla Motors Inc. did not apply for the permit. Rather, it's a way to show the company how much the city is willing to do to ensure Tesla's presence.

"The permit is intended to convey the message to Tesla that, when you're ready to proceed, Tucson is ready to help," Rothschild said in an email.

Tucson is as an ideal fit for several reasons, including costs, logistics and its proximity to Mexico, the mayor said.

The building permit was first reported by the Arizona Daily Star. It applies to the construction of a one-story facility up to 5 million square feet at an address to be determined.

Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada and California are competing for the plant, which will represent a $5 billion investment from the California-based car company and its partners.

Tucson and Arizona officials have spent the last several months courting the electric-car maker. Both the Arizona Commerce Authority and the city have offered various tax incentives.

Tesla officials said Thursday that an announcement of the winning state is still months away. The company broke ground in Reno, Nevada, in June at a possible site for the new factory, but Tesla representatives said they are evaluating other locations and a final decision hasn't been made.

The company will team up with Japanese electronics company Panasonic Corp. to build the manufacturing plant, which is expected to create 6,500 jobs.

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