Tesla Narrows Gigafactory Site Selection to Four States

Tesla Motors, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) indicated in an SEC filing that the company’s site selection process for choosing a location for their Gigafactory battery facility has been narrowed down to four states.

Tesla Gigafactory site selection finalists

Tesla Gigafactory site selection finalists (photo –

Tesla directly plans to invest around $2 billion into the Gigafactory, and the total project is expected to be in the $4-5 billion range including capital investments by Tesla’s Gigafactory partners.

The Gigafactory will create 6,500 jobs, employed directly by Tesla and its production partners.

As indicated by Tesla in its SEC filing, the states that are still under consideration for this project are Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.

Steve Hill, Director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) which coordinates Nevada Economic Development activities and programs, said that Tesla is an exceptional company and they were honored to be included in the list of finalists.

The Gigafactory will consolidate Tesla’s battery pack production process in a single facility where Tesla and their suppliers will work together for integrating battery precursor material, cells, modules and final battery pack production in the same place.

One of the reasons the site selection process has been narrowed down to these four particular states is because the finished battery packs will need to be shipped from the Gigafactory to Tesla’s vehicle assembly plant in Fremont, California. Used battery packs from the vehicle plant will likewise need to be shipped back from Fremont to the Gigafactory site for recycling.

The site Tesla is looking for must be about 500-1,000 acres, allowing them to build up to 10 million square feet of production space across one or two levels.

Facility construction is expected to begin this year, and expected to be complete by the end of 2015. Equipment installation will continue through 2016, and production operations will commence in 2017.

By 2020, when the factory reaches peak production capacity to match the needs of 500,000 vehicles and stationary storage applications, the Tesla Gigafactory will by itself be producing more lithium ion batteries than were produced globally by all manufacturers put together in 2013.

Once the Tesla Gen III vehicle’s production is ramped up to meet mass market demand in 2017, the company expects battery pack costs per kWh to drop by 30 percent, and a big part of this reduced cost will come through the establishment of the Gigafactory.

Tesla says that apart from economies of scale, they plan to minimize costs at the Gigafactory using innovative manufacturing, logistics waste reduction, reduced overheads and optimized co-located processes.

FAA Announces Selection of Six UAS Test Sites

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced the six test sites that will be used for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research and testing, with the aim of integrating drones into the National Airspace System (NAS).

 FAA UAS test sites

FAA UAS test sites (photo –

After receiving 50 or so proposals from 37 states, the FAA shortlisted 25 proposals and undertook a comprehensive 10-month site selection process to choose six of them.

The six UAS test site operators located in Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Alaska who were selected by the FAA are:-

State of Nevada – Nevada’s project will concentrate on UAS standards and operations, as well as the standards for the operator and their certification requirements.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said in a statement that this was a historic moment for Nevada. He said the state has been preparing for this selection and added that they were ready to enter a new era of aviation history.

Senator Harry Reid likewise said this was wonderful news for Nevada and creates a huge opportunity for the economy.

Steve Hill, director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), said that the state’s selection as one of the six test sites allows them to establish a leadership role and be at the forefront of a new and important future industry. Hill added that the job creation and economic impact will be significant.

New York’s Griffiss International Airport – Their proposal includes a plan for working on developing processes for testing and evaluation as well as verification and validation.

According to the FAA, Griffiss International also plans to focus its research on UAS sense and avoid capabilities, and their sites will aid in research conducted into the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested airspace in the northeast.

North Dakota Department of Commerce РNorth Dakota’s plans include developing UAS airworthiness essential data and validating high reliability link technology.

Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi – This operator plans to develop system safety requirements for the UAS and the operations they are used in, with a goal of coming up with protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) – This operator plans to conduct UAS failure mode testing and identify and evaluate operational and technical risks areas. This proposal includes test site ranges in Virginia and New Jersey.

University of Alaska – This operator’s proposal offers seven different climatic zones for testing, with test site ranges located in Hawaii and Oregon.

The test site operations are currently scheduled to continue until at least Feb 2017. Visit for more information on the test sites and the FAA’s plans for UAS integration.

Innovation Policy Summit at International CES

The Innovation Policy Summit at 2014 International CES in Las Vegas, Nevada is scheduled to be held from Jan 07-09, 2014.

Innovation Policy Summit at CES

Innovation Policy Summit at CES (photo –

Organized by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), CES is the world’s largest innovation event.

Last year, CES drew 152,759 attendees from 150 countries, many of whom came as a part of the official delegations sent by 102 countries.

Attendees participating in the Innovation Policy Summit will be able to hear top Washington policymakers, technology leaders and entrepreneurs talk about how to maintain innovation leadership.

The Jan 7 panels include one on the obstacles and opportunities that public policy can create for startups. Six panelists including top innovators and DC policymakers will discuss what the government should and should not do to promote entrepreneurs and generate new innovative businesses.

The other two panels on Jan 7 include one about making music licensing work for innovators, artists and consumers, and another one about the opportunities and challenges for policymakers due to the increasing trend towards connected cars.

Among the Jan 8 panels, the most high-profile one is the one about the “Home of the Future.” Consumers are fast adopting remotely connected lights, heating systems, security cameras and other home appliances that are helping improve energy efficiency and lower energy costs.

The panel will discuss how policymakers and manufacturers can educate consumers to take steps that will help them benefit from such connected homes.

This panel is presented by U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen, and moderated by Larry Downes, consultant and author of “Big Band Disruption: Strategy in the Age of Devastating Innovation.”

The panelists for this connected home panel include:-

Robert M. McDowell, Visiting Fellow, Center for Economics of the Internet, Hudson Institute;

Jeff Hagins, Co-Founder and CTO, Smart Things;

Robert Pepper, VP of Global Technology Policy, Cisco Systems; and

Marc Rogers, Principal Security Researcher, Lookout

The three panels on Jan 9 includes one on how the E-Waste recycling industry is changing given the trend towards lighter consumer electronics that are more valuable even as waste, and less expensive to recycle.

Another panel on Jan 9 focuses on energy efficiency initiatives impacting consumer electronics. This panel will discuss what’s working and what should be the priority for the industry, advocates and government in 2014.

What: Innovation Policy Summit at International CES

When: Jan 07-09, 2013

Where: North Hall, Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada

Nevada Promotes UAS Economic Development to Communities

The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) is hosting a public workshop on unmanned aerial systems (UAS) that will focus on how communities in Nevada can become involved with drones as an economic initiative.

Why Nevada for the UAV Industry

Why Nevada for the UAV Industry (photo –

The workshop, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 18, 2013, will be held at UNCE’s Lifelong Learning Center in Las Vegas.

It will also be videoconferenced live at 16 locations across the state, including at the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

The event is being organized jointly by the Cooperative Extension in partnership with the University’s Center for Economic Development at the College of Business and the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED).

The workshop is divided into three parts. The morning session involves presentations about efforts being made to bring the UAS industry to Nevada.

The afternoon lunch panel, convened by GOED Director Steve Hill and UNCE Dean Mark Walker, will introduce faculty members from the Nevada System of Higher Education who are involved in the development of the UAS program. The afternoon session will be about discussing UAS applications.

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension is a county-state-federal partnership that provides practical non-degree education to individuals, businesses and communities. UNCE has 18 offices around the state, manned by more than 200 personnel and additional volunteers who deliver educational programs in areas such as agriculture, health, natural resources and community development.

Eureka County Extension educator Fred Steinmann, who put together the UAS workshop, said the Governor’s Office partnered with UNCE for this outreach because they know the Cooperative Extension’s connection to the state’s counties and the work UNCE is doing in community development.

He said UNCE was all about engaging and enhancing communities and businesses in Nevada, so it was a great fit.

GOED is leading the State of Nevada’s bid to be designated as one of the FAA’s six UAS test sites, and recently sponsored the establishment of the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS).

NIAS is a non-profit organization comprised of leaders from the government, academia and the private industry working together to promote the unmanned systems industry in Nevada and secure the FAA UAS test site designation.

Zappos Opens New Corporate Campus in Downtown Las Vegas

Zappos officially became a corporate presence in Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada with the grand opening of its new campus built on what was formerly the City Hall.

Zappos opening in Downtown Las Vegas

Zappos opening in Downtown Las Vegas (photo – City of Las Vegas)

Zappos moved in the first lot of 200 employees from its existing headquarters in Henderson, NV.

The online retailer, which is now an Amazon company after having been acquired for $1.2 billion in 2009, had committed to relocating 1,200 employees to the new campus.

They actually plan to relocate around 1,400 Zappos employees over the next 40 days. The new space has been built to house 2,000 employees.

The Resort Gaming Group (RGG) purchased the City Hall and surrounding property from the City of Las Vegas and rebuilt the space after entering into a lease agreement with, Inc.

The extensive $40 million renovation and redesign will allow the 40-year old building to seek LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for sustainable design features and green construction initiatives.

The relocation of Zappos with its 1,400 employees is expected to have an impact of more than $336.6 million. A report by RCG Economics on the economic impact of the project estimated that the Zappos’ headquarters would bring $126.3 million in employee wages and benefits.

Also, it changes the property status from a tax-exempt value of $33 million to $64.5 million which is non-exempted. This means the City of Las Vegas will be collecting approximately $395,900 in additional annual property taxes. Not to mention the property purchase price of $18 million it received from RGG.

The proceeds from the sale and the new taxes generated are being used by the City to finance the cost of a new City Hall, which is adding to the momentum of a downtown revitalization plan for creating thousands of jobs and attracting billions in private investment to Downtown Las Vegas and Nevada.

The Zappos relocation is the core component of the Downtown Project, funded largely through a $350 million commitment by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.

The project is aimed at transforming Downtown Las Vegas with a $200 million investment in real estate, along with $50 million each for small businesses and education, plus another $50 million for tech startups through the VegasTech Fund.

Ardagh Metal Packaging to Set Up Manufacturing Plant in Reno, NV

The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) announced that Ardagh Metal Packaging USA Inc. will establish a new manufacturing plant in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) in Storey County, NV.

NV Governor Brian Sandoval, Storey County Commissioner Marshall McBride and Ardagh CEO

Governor Brian Sandoval, Storey County Commissioner Marshall McBride and Ardagh CEO (photo –

The project will create 140 jobs in northern Nevada over the next five years, of which 72 are slated to be created within the first six months.

The new positions created will be for skilled technical workers, and will have average annual wages of more than $24 per hour.

Earlier this month, Ardagh announced the choice of Roanoke County, Virginia as the location for a new metal can manufacturing plant on the east coast. That project is slated to create 96 new jobs.

James Willich, CEO of Ardagh’s metal packaging business in the U.S., said they evaluated many sites for the western region expansion. He said Storey County offered attractive factors such as proximity to one of their major customers, infrastructure and logistical advantages, a low cost of living, availability of skilled labor, and a favorable business tax structure.

A statement from EDAWN noted that the company had considered 37 buildings in two states before settling on the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center. They said one of the factors that influenced the company was the support of state and local governments for the application and permitting process to demonstrate that they would work with Ardagh.

TRIC is a 107,000 acre park which includes a 30,000-acre industrial complex pre-approved for industrial and manufacturing projects. It is on the I-80 nine miles south of Reno, and offers rail serviced sites with sewerage, water supply, high pressure gas and five generating power stations on-site.

EDAWN CEO Mike Kazmierski said they were thrilled to welcome Ardagh to the community, and added that the announcement was the direct result of concerted efforts, including by the Storey County team and by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and his staff.

The Luxembourg-based Ardagh Group manufactures and supplies metal and glass packaging for food and beverage companies. Their clients include major food companies such as ConAgra Foods and beverage giants such Coca-Cola, Bacardi, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Carlsberg.

The Luxembourg-based Ardagh Group’s U.S. metal packaging business is based in Carnegie, Pennsylvania. The company has more than 18,000 employees across 100 facilities in 25 countries, and produces more than 32 billion containers annually.

Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance Update – $450M Investments, 2640 Jobs Created

The Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA) released data about the activities and annual impact of the combined efforts of LVGEA and its partners in regional economic development.

Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance

photo –

A statewide strategy was implemented after the creation of Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) to diversify the economy and coordinate economic development efforts between the state and regional groups.

Since 2012, LVGEA (formerly Nevada Development Authority) has therefore been working in cooperation with Clark County, GOED and the economic development agencies of Las Vegas, Boulder, Henderson, North Las Vegas and Mesquite.

The data they released shows these groups provided expansion, relocation and startup assistance for 62 businesses. These projects account for $450 million in new capital investments and the creation of 2,640 new jobs. Put together, the economic impact of these projects on the Southern Nevada economy exceeds $1.5 billion.

LVGEA COO Jonas Peterson said the robust numbers show the importance of the region working together for realizing shared economic prosperity. He said collaboration makes them stronger, and increasing efforts to grow and diversify the region’s economy would lead to more success next year.

LVGEA highlighted some of their major successes in FY 2012-13, including the SolarCity project. San Mateo, California-based SolarCity Corp. (NASDAQ: SCTY) had been scouting for a place to locate its back office and sales staff.

They looked at locations in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho and Oregon before settling on Las Vegas. SolarCity now plans to create hundreds of jobs at the Vegas office. It also opens up the possibility of Nevada getting the company’s solar equipment manufacturing and distribution centers.

The project was secured by a collaborative effort undertaken by LVGEA with GOED, Clark County, The inNEVation Center, and the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce. SolarCity is getting $1.2 million as state incentives under the Catalyst Fund for relocation assistance.

Another highlighted project was a testing studio relocated by Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), which develops, publishes and distributes hit video games such as the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series.

Take-Two relocated a testing studio with 150 jobs from Northridge, California to Las Vegas. The project was facilitated by the City of Las Vegas and LVGEA working together with GOED to get the company approved for Catalyst Fund incentives.

Las Vegas Deputy City Manager Scott Adams said the City was pleased that it was able to play a significant role in the restructuring of the region’s development organization into the LVGEA, which has led to an alliance that is more effective and showing great progress.

LVGEA was formerly known as the Nevada Development Authority until Feb 2013, at which time the organization changed its name to the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, and moved into an expanded space in The InNEVation Center.

Nevada Gov. Seeks $5M for UAS Test Site Application

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval announced that he is proposing a budget amendment to appropriate $5 million in support of the state’s application to the FAA to be chosen as one of the six unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test sites where drones will be tested for integration into the National Airspace System (NAS).

Predator drone at Air Force base in Nevada

Predator drone at Air Force base in Nevada (photo –

The final date for submitting complete proposals to the FAA was May 6, 2013. Before that, 50 applicants from 37 states had filed initial responses expressing an interest in being chosen as one of the pilot sites.

One of these applications was submitted by a 28-member consortium from Nevada, led by the Nevada Economic Development Office as the applicant.

Included in this team are public, private and academic entities such as Navigator Development Group, Drone America, Bowhead Systems, the Nevada National Guard and the Nevada System of Higher Education.

The team is being led by Steve Hill, head of the Economic Development Office, and by Bill Burks, adjutant-general of the Nevada National Guard.

The $5 million the Governor is asking for would come partially from the state’s Catalyst Fund and the remaining from higher revenues expected over the next couple of years, as per forecasts by the Economic Forum . The money would be used to collect more data supporting Nevada’s application and convince the FAA of Nevada’s readiness to handle the project.

The project is estimated to have the potential to create 15,000 new jobs in the state. The Governor’s statement said that thousands of direct UAS employees would earn average annual wages of $62,000.

Being selected as a UAS test site by the FAA would mean an economic impact of $2.5 billion for Nevada, with estimated additional annual local and state tax revenues of $125 million.

Nevada has certain built-in advantages over other applicants, including the fact that the military already tests its drones in the state and this has created a well-trained talent pool of veterans who know how to operate drones and fulfill other job functions for UAS manufacturers and research companies.

Not to mention that Nevada contains the largest expanse of restricted airspace in the continental United States. The state’s proposal includes a plan for drone testing in contiguous restricted and commercial airspace, which makes it ideal as a pilot site for testing UAS-NAS integration.

The state is offering four sites where commercial drones can be located, including the Fallon Naval Air Station, Boulder City, Desert Rock and Stead.

Gov. Sandoval said that with the airspace and climate in Southern Nevada, the state was uniquely equipped to assist with the development of UAVs. He added that the economic benefits of being chosen as a test site were exponential, and that he believes the state would see a great return on this $5 million investment.

Chief Executive Survey – Best States for Doing Business

Chief Executive Magazine has published its ninth annual survey of CEO opinions regarding the best and worst states for doing business.

Texas Top State for Doing Business

Texas Top State for Doing Business (Photo –

The top five remain unchanged from last year’s listing, with Texas at the top and Indiana bookending the top five list in fifth place. Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee take the second, third and fourth spots respectively.

The two surprises in the 2013 list are Arizona and Nevada. Arizona jumped up four spots to take the sixth place, while Nevada jumped three rungs to climb up to ninth place.

Virginia and South Carolina were each pushed down one slot to seventh and eighth place rankings, while Georgia was pushed down two slots into the 10th place.

Among all 50 states, the biggest mover on the list was Ohio, whose ranking jumped up 13 places from 35th place last year to 22nd this year.

The list is based on responses from 736 CEOs who graded states they were familiar with on a variety of metrics such as living environment, workforce quality and taxation and regulation.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but 19 out of the top 20 states on the list are states which currently have Republican governors. The only outlier is Colorado, which is in 13th place and has a Democrat in the governor’s mansion.

Progressive states similarly crowd the bottom of the list. California is listed dead last, preceded by New York and Illinois. New Jersey and Massachusetts join these three as the five worst states for doing business, as per the 736 CEOs surveyed by Chief Executive Magazine.

You can see the full list of all 50 states here.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence said in a statement that their fifth ranking nationwide and top ranking as the best state for business in the Midwest was a validation of the work they have put in to make Indiana the country’s top jobs state.

Gov. Pence added that chief executives knew that Indiana was among the few states that actually works for business.

Las Vegas to Create Global Business District

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) unveiled plans for the Las Vegas Global Business District, a transformative project centered around the Las Vegas Convention Center and the surrounding area.

Las Vegas Convention Center

Las Vegas Convention Center (photo – LVCVA)

The Las Vegas Global Business District aims to create an international business destination in Las Vegas, Nevada by incorporating major renovations of the Las Vegas Convention Center, leveraging the World Trade Center designation and developing transportation connectivity through a centralized hub.

“I truly believe this is a transformative project. Las Vegas is known for defining moments that change the hospitality industry, and this project will be the next defining moment,” said Rossi Ralenkotter, LVCVA president and CEO. “This is more than a project, this is a vision that will launch Las Vegas forward ahead of the competition for decades to come.”

The Las Vegas Global Business District will be developed in phases over several years based on three key findings that emerged after conducting research and holding several focus groups with clients and stakeholders.

The first part of the project focuses on renovating the Las Vegas Convention Center with additional exhibit space, meeting rooms and general session space; upgrading technology; adding new food and beverage outlets; and, creating a grand concourse connector with more lobby space.

Outside the convention center, plans call for a cohesive business center district with outdoor public and gathering spaces.

The second component of the project will leverage the World Trade Center designation. By creating a dedicated World Trade Center facility, the LVCVA plans to expand international business opportunities and increase market share by attracting more meetings and conventions to the destination.

The third key element creates a centralized transportation hub that will improve connectivity in the resort corridor. The LVCVA is working with local transportation stakeholders to define a long-term strategy to accommodate the movement of people as Las Vegas projects to host approximately 44 million annual visitors, and as many as seven million convention delegates over the next 10 years.

Over the next two years, the LVCVA will work on programming and design for the Global Business District, along with development of the overall budget, improvements to the current space at the Las Vegas Convention Center and land acquisition. The LVCVA plans to issue up to $150 million of commercial paper to fund phase one elements.

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