Electric Car Manufacturer Fails State Again
Tesla’s worst-kept secret is finally out. Again, The battery factory is not coming to New Mexico. I am nowhere close to the seat of New Mexico economic development. I am not in any way connected with Tesla. Yet, I have known for some five months that Nevada would be the site for the battery factory. How could all the states in the game not know? Why did they have to wait for Tesla’s official announcement yesterday to end the 5-state Tesla poker game, as the Albuquerque Journal called it?
New Mexico History
Tesla has a historical connection with New Mexico. I remember how hopes were dashed in 2008 when they did not follow through to build the electric car manufacturing factory announced by Governor Richardson in 2007. New Mexico was the only player in that game then. Why did Tesla pull out? Perhaps current administration expected Tesla would return to build the battery factory to make up for that disappointment. Were we thinking that conditions for attracting and keeping business were much better? Or were we simply desperate?
In 2007 Tesla was going to build and operate a factory to employ 400 people to produce 10, 000 electric cars. It was well publicized. The site for the factory was identified. The city of Albuquerque was euphoric. Nothing happened.
For building the battery factory, Tesla conducted a drawn-out, public charade with not two or three but five states. It is surprising the five states went along for so long. It speaks volumes about the region’s efforts for economic recovery from the downturn that started 2007-2008.
Job and Population Growth
If we needed Tesla in 2007, we need them more in 2014. Nearby states resumed growth in jobs and population and by all accounts are flourishing while New Mexico continues to lose jobs and people. The state is ranked at the bottom of every survey for what is desirable and at the top for whatever is undesirable.
Time for a Change, New Mexico
The poet, Emily Dickenson wrote:
We never know how high we
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies.
It is time for New Mexico to change the knee-jerk approach to economic development. Economic development should not be based on accommodating business interested in paying the lowest salaries and taxes but in those that value people, and the dignity of labor. It should mean seeking out those that are the right fit for our state. If we can attract them, they will come and New Mexicans will have jobs. They will be able to buy homes, feed their families and educate their children.