Texas Gov. Rick Perry drove a Tesla Motors electric car past the state Capitol Tuesday afternoon, sending a not-very-subtle message that he’s in a rush to woo Chief Executive Elon Musk to build a $4 billion-plus battery factory in the Lone Star State.
It’s the latest in a series of job-poaching visits to California by Perry, a long-serving governor and potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016. In April, he took credit for luring Toyota Motor Corp. to move its U.S. headquarters and 3,000 marketing and finance people from Torrance to the Dallas suburb of Plano.
Now, he's in the thick of interstate competition to get the so-called gigafactory, which would employ 6,500 workers, to make long-range electric batteries.
"Competition between states is good for the country," he said.
Perry told reporters he enjoyed driving the Tesla Model S sedan but would have preferred "if it had a made-in-Texas bumper sticker." He said he didn't like the word poaching.
Spokesmen for Gov. Jerry Brown declined to comment on Perry’s latest visit to the California capital city.
Brown and Democratic and some Republican lawmakers aren't passively waiting for Texas to grab its jobs and employers. They're starting to offer financial incentives, low taxes and red-tape cutting to encourage companies to stay in California. They’ve vowed to do anything in their power to convince Musk to open the battery plant in California, closer to the firm’s Palo Alto headquarters and Fremont manufacturing plant.
Brown telegraphed that he means business when his Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, known as Go-Biz, released a list of 31 California companies that have been recommended to get the first $30 million in state income tax credits under the new California Competes program.
“The recommended companies represent a significant impact to California’s economy in terms of new jobs and investments,” said Go-Biz Deputy Director Will Koch.
The California Competes program is authorized to boost its total available incentives to $150 million during the state fiscal year that begins July 1. Tesla would be eligible to apply for some of the benefits if it decides to build its battery plant in its home state.