Tesla? In Tulsa?
Word broke last week that Tulsa and Austin, Texas, are the two finalists to be the future home of the electric carmaker’s planned cybertruck gigafactory.
The facility would manufacture electric-powered pickup trucks. It would employ more than 10,000 people — an obvious economic development jackpot.
Tesla founder Elon Musk reportedly has said that he wants the plant near the center of the United States, and that he will announce a final decision sometime this month.
No one who knows for sure what’s happening will talk about it for the record, but it has been widely reported that Musk’s choices have come down to Tulsa and Austin.
Why should the company choose Tulsa over Austin? We can think of several reasons.
First, we love Tulsa and we think Tesla will too. This is a growing and dynamic city. From Gathering Place to Guthrie Green to Cherry Street, public and private investment have revitalized the city, giving a new coolness.
Austin’s fame as a hip center of the nation may be better known than ours, but Tesla reputation is for setting the curve, not following it. We think Tulsa is where Austin was a few decades ago, ready to be the next big thing.
If the goal is a central location, it’s obvious that Tulsa is more in the middle of everything than all of Texas. Both cities are served by the interstate highway system, but only one of them has a seaport, us.
Speaking of that interstate highway system, Tesla site scouts will quickly discover that Tulsa has a lot less traffic than Austin. A 2018 study said Austin has the 14th worst congestion problem in the United States, and that the average driver loses 104 hours a year in congestion at a cost of $1,452. How cool is your city if you can’t get from one side of it to the other?
Will Tesla come to Tulsa? We hope so. If it does, it will find a business-friendly city, built by Musk-style risk-takers that is ready to grow and innovate.