As the dust settles on the global meltdown, the state budget fiasco, and the prevailing wage struggles in San Jose, there is one very bright point of light to be seen. Tesla Motors’ decision to locate their primary manufacturing facility and headquarters in North San Jose is indeed a noteworthy event, a major shot in the arm for the local economy.
Is it something to cheer about? Definitely.
One might say, though, that it’s in the eye of the beholder. This much is very clear: Billions can get pumped into the Silicon Valley economy, $1.5 million eventually will go into the city’s coffers, and a thousand or so corporate and factory jobs will materialize. They hope to have the plant in operation by 2010 and the $60,000 electric sedan coming off the assembly line that same year.
Many cities tried for this, and the state, with our governor’s pushing, beat out New Mexico and other states to get the nod. San Jose did the rest.
The land set aside is in the buffer area of the Water Pollution Control Plant and clearly unfit for housing or retail uses. This clean-tech entry is a natural. In fact, Tesla officials credited Chuck Reed with sharing Tesla’s vision of making San Jose the epicenter of the clean-tech revolution—kind words indeed, and perhaps the clincher.
Clearly kudos are deserved. Let’s apportion some of the credit now. Mayor Reed and his staff get a lot of it; Deb Figone, the City Manager who directed the staff effort, deserves a big slice too; and jack-of-all deals Paul Kutko, as the lead staff person, must be high on the list of thank yous. Job well done.
This long-term lease is clearly—and cleanly—the type of aggressive marketing of the city that San Jose has needed for a long time, and seldom received. One would hope that this is the first of a series of well-directed initiatives to capture the emerging businesses that are springing up around the “green-tech,” “clean-tech” sectors.
In baseball parlance, we need to take what the pitcher is giving us, and not swing for the fences each time at bat. This is the part of the economy that we can attract in a big-time way. Yet, it seems that on this short swing, the ball may just have gone over the fence.