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Dallas' Inland Port Now Hoping For Second Place In Competition For Tesla Plant

Shelley Kofler
An intermodal center in the Inland Port area serves as a transfer point for cargo being shipped across the country.

North Texans trying to attract Tesla’s massive electric battery plant to south Dallas County will officially get the disappointing news Thursday.

Tesla will announce it's building its so-called gigafactory in Nevada. So why is North Texas still holding out for second place?

The $5 billion Tesla battery plant is a once-in-a-lifetime project. It will employ 6,500 and spawn a spider web of support businesses that will transform the economy where it’s built.

No wonder then that developers in the Inland Port were giddy when they learned Tesla was scouting its 77,000-acre industrial park 20 minutes south of downtown Dallas.

The network of interstates and rail lines has already attracted big-name distribution centers for companies such as Quaker Oats, Procter & Gamble and Georgia Pacific.

But Guy Brown, an economic development contractor for the city of Hutchins, said in July that Tesla would be the mother lode. Hutchins is home to part of the Inland Port.

“The Tesla project would be the largest new industrial project in North America this year. It would have a profound impact not only on Hutchins but the entire North Texas area,” Brown said.

On Wednesday, however, North Texas learned Tesla has narrowed its exclusive list of locations to a top site in Nevada where it’s already broken ground.

Still, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says the exposure that’s come through the selection process has been great.

“I’m extremely proud of the team in Dallas County that moved Dallas County from nowhere to the short list," Jenkins said. "I’m hopeful this raises our profile for these big moves and raises the profile of the Inland Port."

Jenkins says the selection of Nevada may not actually be the end of the competition. Tesla has said it will choose two sites in case one falls through.

Jenkins is ready with his sales pitch if he gets a chance to use it.

“With 50,000 undeveloped acres of land at the intersection of three interstate highways and two major international rail lines, the Inland Port is better situated in an urban area than anywhere in the United States,” Jenkins said. "So come on down."

Other finalists in California, New Mexico, Arizona and at another Texas site near San Antonio are probably honing their pitches for second place, too.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.