“Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”
Nov 29, 2016, 12:00pm MST Eric Jay Toll Reporter Phoenix Business Journal
Casa Grande in Pinal County is the new home of a 500-acre, $700 million, 2,000-employee automotive manufacturer.
Menlo Park, California-based Lucid Motors will build an electric vehicle manufacturing facility in Casa Grande and has plans to build its luxury electric vehicles for first sale in 2018.
It is gearing up to compete with Mercedes, Audi and BMW, not positioning itself as an alternative to Tesla Motors or Faraday EVs.
“It took a serious partnership of the state, (Pinal) county and (Casa Grande) to bring this deal together,” said Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in an exclusive interview. “We made an extra effort to bring another major manufacturing facility to Arizona.”
Ducey essentially closed the deal for Arizona, according to Lucid Motors.
Lucid had to weed though more than 60 markets in 13 states before selecting Casa Grande. Company officials did not want to name the finalist markets, but a report in the Sacramento Business Journal said the California capital city was the runner-up for the selection. Lucid would not confirm or deny that report.
Key decision factors were the availability of a 500-acre, shovel-ready site with heavy rail access, the Pinal County and Valley workforces and Arizona’s quality of life.
“While all the markets wanted an automotive OEM facility, Arizona was the state that made us feel as if it were a partner in the process,” said Brian Barron, director of manufacturing for Lucid Motors, formerly Atieva. “We were impressed that Gov. Ducey made a trip to California to meet our team and was so accessible when we were in Arizona. This was one of the key deciding factors in choosing Casa Grande.”
Greg Stanley, Pinal county manager, and Larry Rains, Casa Grande city manager, said the combined effort of the three governments and key local businesses overcame some of the challenges faced in getting the deal together.
Casa Grande and the county had to assemble the land for the company from five different land owners. The dual coordination was needed because 80 acres of the 500 acres are in the county and need to be annexed into the city.
Another factor is that the ground was shovel-ready with all backbone utilities in place.
“Finding a property this size with utilities was an important part of the decision process,” Barron said.
The company will begin hiring around 400 people in 2017 to start the training process in concert with Central Arizona College and technical and community colleges in Maricopa and Pinal counties.
“Just as happened in South Carolina and Alabama, we’ll need to train a non-automotive workforce to become an automotive workforce,” said Peter Rawlinson, Lucid’s chief technical officer.
An architect and general contractor have been selected for the mid-2017 groundbreaking, but Barron declined to name the firms until the contracts are finalized.
The facility will locate at Peters and Thorton roads in Casa Grande’s industrial development area near the junction of Interstates 8 and 10. Contrary to early reports, this is not the site that was originally proposed to Tesla Motors when the state bid for its Gigafactory a few years ago.
Eric covers economic development, banking and finance, infrastructure, transportation and utilities.
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