WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Ron Barber has urged Tesla Motors to build its new 6,500-job battery factory in Southern Arizona, citing the research expertise of the University of Arizona, the area’s transportation facilities and quality of life and a workforce that is diverse and well-educated.
In a letter this week to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Barber made a strong pitch to electric car maker Tesla for building its $5 billion “gigafactory” for lithium-ion batteries in Southern Arizona. The planned 10 million-square-foot plant would need up to 1,000 acres of land and create about 6,500 jobs.
“We are excited to learn that Tesla Motors is considering Southern Arizona as the home for its new industry-leading Gigafactory,” Barber wrote to Musk. “Locating in Southern Arizona will allow Tesla Motors to take advantage of our state’s low cost of doing business, simplified tax system, highly skilled workforce, unique access to major markets and extraordinary quality of life.”
Barber cited several reasons Tesla should bring its jobs to Southern Arizona:
· The University of Arizona, one of the nation’s top research institutions where researchers are “leading the way for private-public partnerships in our region.”
· UA Science and Technology Park, “where emerging companies and technology giants work side by side.” Barber also noted the park’s Solar Zone, “one of the largest multi-technology solar evaluations sites in the United States.”
· Electric vehicle leadership, with Tucson Clean Cities being the first coalition in the nation to sign on to the EV Project and the first to work with Nissan to launch the all-electric Leaf.
· Proximity to Mexico, with its thriving middle class and growing manufacturing economy.
· Workforce of more than 475,000 people with fast-track, customized job and skills training in many fields as well as organized and cooperative efforts to recruit and retain workers.
· Transportation, with north-south and east-west rail and highway connections to the nation. Barber also cited the Port of Tucson, a destination and origin for international and intermodal shipments.
· Quality of life, which Barber described as “second to none.” He also quoted from a recent article in Canadian Traveller magazine which said of Tucson: “With mountain ranges and cacti-studded desert as a backyard, there’s no shortage of outdoors experiences, each one packing a WOW factor.”
In addition to boosting Southern Arizona to Tesla, Barber joined with his eight Arizona colleagues in the House, both Republicans and Democrats, in urging Musk to build the battery factory in Arizona.
In a joint letter this week, Barber and his House colleagues described Arizona as “one of the most business-friendly states in the nation.”
Both letters are attached in pdf format.
Since he took office in mid-2012, Barber has been focused on bringing jobs to Southern Arizona.From housing to defense, Barber is actively working with groups whose priorities match those of Arizona’s economic sectors – from the Arizona Farm Bureau to the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association and Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association.
As a member of the House Small Business Committee, Barber also works to support access to capital and growth for small businesses in Southern Arizona and across the country.
Barber also worked to bring international businesses to Tucson by advocating for the UA Science and Technology Park’s Global Initiatives Program in Israel.