How Arizona and Casa Grande beat 60 markets to land a $700M auto plant

Original Article via Eric Jay Toll | Phoenix Business Journal

When the blog Recode cited an anonymous source that Lucid Motors had selected Casa Grande for its $700 million manufacturing plant, the tech blog got the reason Arizona won the 13-state, 60 market locate competition all wrong.

Blogger Mark Harris quoted a senior Lucid engineer as saying, “(Arizona) is throwing everything including the kitchen sink at (Lucid) to get them to come to the state.” Harris himself added that Arizona “likely include(d) generous tax incentives.”

But company and state officials said tax incentives had nothing to do with the Arizona pick.

Arizona won with shovel-ready sites and quality workforce

“We picked Arizona because it had a (shovel-ready) site the size we needed with infrastructure in place,” said Brian Barron, Lucid Motors director of manufacturing. “It also had a supply chain and a workforce with a training program.”

What helped seal the deal, according to Barron and Lucid Chief Technical Officer Peter Rawlinson, was the personal visit by Gov. Doug Ducey to Lucid’s Fremont, California, prototype shop.

“I was able to meet with company executives and talk to employees at all levels of the company,” Ducey said in an exclusive interview with the Phoenix Business Journal. “They showed me the car, even took me for a ride, and I told them about the quality of life and the business environment here in Arizona.”

The governor led an Arizona Commerce Authority delegation meeting with Lucid officials in California and met with the company at least three times in-state. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake also were involved in meetings with Lucid officials.

Barron said while governments in 12 other states let Lucid know they wanted the company to locate its manufacturing facility there, Arizona was different.

“Arizona made us feel as if they were more of a partner for our success,” Barron said. “We believe in Casa Grande, and we believe that we have picked the best location for our facility.”

Lucid is committing to hire 2,000 workers by 2023, five years after it goes into production, and spend $700 million on capital outlay for construction and capital equipment during the period.

Lucid, like any existing or new manufacturer, can qualify for tax credits, and for cash reimbursements from the state’s Competes Fund, according to Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. Barron and Rawlinson said the state, city and county worked together and connected Lucid with training programs at Central Arizona College and community colleges in Maricopa and Pima County.

The two also stressed how Casa Grande and Pinal County had the site ready to develop with city utilities, electric power, natural gas and digital infrastructure, and were able to commit to meet the company’s development timeline.

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