GOED director: Tesla investment diversifying Nevada’s economy
In 2014, Paul Anderson was a lawmaker when the Nevada Legislature unanimously approved a $1.3 billion incentive package that successfully attracted Tesla and Panasonic to the Silver State for its Gigafactory east of Reno.
Four years later, Anderson, now the director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, is all smiles at the economic growth and diversity that’s come from Tesla’s decision to call Northern Nevada home.
After all, the electric vehicle and battery manufacturer continues to make — and hit — its mark in Nevada. A GOED report issued Dec. 5 showed that Tesla and Panasonic are not only meeting the promises they made, they’re exceeding them.
With that in mind, the Northern Nevada Business View spoke with Anderson about Tesla’s growing economic impact in Nevada.
NNBV: WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THE TESLA GIGAFACTORY SURPASSING ITS JOB CREATION AND CAPITAL INVESTMENT?
Anderson: It’s certainly exciting for Nevada to see that kind of growth and those types of jobs growing. And how much diversity that it is bringing on the economic front to not just Northern Nevada, but Nevada, in general.
When we had gone to special session to put the Tesla incentive package together, we were nearly 14 percent unemployment, we were really in the depths of the recession with not a lot of bright spots when you look at the economy overall. And to see where we’ve come in such a short period of time, it’s really good policy and action, with someone like Gov. Sandoval who had the vision to create this idea of a new Nevada.
It’s a good time to be in Nevada and that I think will stay true for quite some time, even though we may see some hiccups along the way. As long as we keep that momentum rolling and do not do anything to put a big speed bump in the way, I think we’re in a good spot and a good spot moving forward.
NNBV: JUST HOW MUCH HAS TESLA’S INVESTMENT IN NEVADA CHANGED THE ECONOMIC LANDSCAPE HERE?
Anderson: When you’re looking at Nevada and what it was known for in the past … a lot of folks internationally probably couldn’t pick Nevada out on a map, even if you gave them the West Coast as a direction. It certainly put us on the map in a lot of ways. One is that we are a very innovative, progressive state when it comes to both attracting these types of businesses and the support infrastructure when it comes to workforce development.
It really has been — across the state — a game-changer for us as we looked at other companies that are all of a sudden taking notice of Nevada and what we’ve been able to do the last eight years and what’s currently possible here.
NNBV: WHAT ARE SOME COMPANIES THAT COME TO MIND?
Anderson: You look at the tech summit that took place at Tesla just a couple of months back, you had Jeffrey Berns from Blockchains (LLC) talk about how they probably wouldn’t have even considered Nevada as an option had it not been for Tesla being in that region. That raised their eyebrows a little bit. That they were able to be so successful there in the environment gave them hope and opportunity for what they’re trying to as well.
NNBV: WHAT NUMBERS IN THE LATEST GOED REPORT STOOD OUT TO YOU THE MOST?
Anderson: Certainly the overall investment — the capital investment of $6 billion was substantially higher than what we forecasted and expected. Between that and simply the job numbers, and the quality of those jobs, it is great to see.
It’s still a small percentage of the overall workforce when you look at the Reno-Sparks area. But they’re having such a positive effect on everything that goes on. Sometimes they get blamed for 100 percent of the problems — like housing and transportation — even though they’re only 3-4 percent of the total workforce.
NNBV: ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
Anderson: This is promises made, promises kept (by Tesla). The gamble wasn’t really on us because all of these incentives are performance-based. So if they didn’t perform, they don’t get them. But they set out to change the world, and while I would assume some obstacles and challenges along the way when you’re trying to do that, they have kept every promise that they’ve made us — and continue to — moving forward with new opportunities. So we’re glad to call them part of the Nevada family.