In what feels a bit like a blue-collar version of Amazon’s famous HQ2 competition, the Associated Press has reported that Austin and Tulsa are rivals for a new Tesla “gigafactory” that would produce the company’s forthcoming Cybertruck.
Tulsa civic leaders quickly jumped on the electric bandwagon, with Mayor G. T. Bynum tweeting a picture of the distinctive Cybertruck outfitted as a local police vehicle.
— G.T. Bynum (@gtbynum) May 17, 2020
“Tulsa is a city that doesn’t stifle entrepreneurs—we revere them,” said Bynum, a Republican, in a statement. “And as Tesla continues to rapidly change transportation all around the world, I can’t imagine a better place for them to further that important work than Green Country.”
The city’s iconic Golden Driller statue, built in the 1950s to honor the city’s ties to the oil industry, was even tweaked to instead celebrate electric vehicles. Its face was covered with a white “mask” designed to resemble Tesla CEO Elon Musk, its “Tulsa” belt buckle was covered with the word “Tesla,” and its chest was decorated with a red, tattoo-like rendition of the Tesla logo.
— Mike Simons (@mikesimonsphoto) May 19, 2020
Should the automaker build its factory with a rumored 10,000 jobs, it could become the largest employer in Tulsa, reported the Tulsa World. The company hasn’t publicly commented on the truth of the AP report. Musk recently hinted at his affinity for the state, though: He threatened to move Tesla’s “HQ and future programs” to Texas or Nevada in a public fight with local officials in California over shutdown orders that affected Tesla’s operations there.
We reached out to Tesla for comment and will update if we hear back.
Austin is already known as a tech hub and has what the World reports is a population of roughly 964,000, more than twice that of Tulsa’s approximately 400,000, and the response there appeared more subdued. Mayor Steve Adler told the Austin American-Stateman that he doesn’t comment on such matters.
Civic boosters in Tulsa, located on Historic Route 66, have made efforts to attract young people and entrepreneurs in recent years. A program called Tulsa Remote, backed by the local George Kaiser Family Foundation, offers $10,000 and other incentives to remote workers who relocate to the city for Oklahoma city for at least a year. The foundation also backed Gathering Place, a massive new park on the Arkansas River in the city, and even the Bob Dylan Archive, a massive collection of the Nobel laureate singer-songwriter’s papers and other materials within the city.