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California helped create Tesla, Newsom says after Musk reveals HQ move

California Gov. Gavin Newsom at a microphone with his hands outstretched.
Responding to the news that Tesla will move its corporate headquarters to Austin, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said California “helped create that company and grow that company.”
(Associated Press)

Gov. Gavin Newsom struck a defiant tone Friday in response to losing the headquarters of one of California’s marquee companies, Tesla Inc., to Texas, saying his state’s policies helped create the electric-car maker.

Newsom, speaking at a bill-signing ceremony in Oakland, thanked Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk for his investments in California, where the company was born and opened its first factory.

The governor called Musk “one of the world’s great innovators and entrepreneurs — I mean, what an extraordinary, extraordinary talent.” He also welcomed Musk’s comments, made Thursday during Tesla’s annual shareholders meeting, that the company would expand its operations in California, even as it planned to shift its headquarters to Austin.

While regulators investigate a spate of Teslas steering themselves into parked vehicles, Tesla owners have been reporting faulty collision-avoidance systems.

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But Newsom, a prominent Democrat who often contrasts his state’s actions with those of Republican-led Texas, said California’s business climate remains strong, particularly for clean-energy companies. He boasted that the state leads the nation in factory jobs, venture capital investments and new companies going public.

And he said California deserved some of the credit for Tesla’s success, giving the company “hundreds of millions of dollars” in tax breaks and adopting policies to encourage electric cars. California has for years required automakers to sell zero-emission vehicles in the state or buy credits from companies that do, and it remains the country’s largest market for electric vehicles.

“Our regulatory environment helped create that company and grow that company,” Newsom said. “I have reverence and deep respect for that individual. But I also have deep reverence and respect for this state and what we’ve done.”

Newsom was asked whether a tweet sent last year by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez in which she invoked Musk’s name with an expletive was appropriate or contributed to his decision to move to Texas. Musk tweeted “exactly” on Friday when the comments were pointed out in a blog about the move.

“I receive tweets like that probably on an hourly basis and I’m staying here,” Newsom said.


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