McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — After Elon Musk tweeted Saturday that he was relocating his Tesla Motors facilities from California to Texas or Nevada to restart production quicker during this pandemic, the Hidalgo County judge today reached out to the billionaire entrepreneur via Twitter inviting him to start up an electric car plant in South Texas. And to his surprise, Musk responded right away.
Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez, in a letter posted Monday on Twitter to Musk, wrote: “I have recently read of your displeasure with authorities in California and your desire to relocate to Texas ‘immediately.’ I wanted to reach out to you to let you know that Hidalgo County, Texas is available to immediately accommodate you and Tesla Motors. You, of course, are well familiar with South Texas given the presence of the SpaceX launch site at nearby Boca Chica Beach. What you may not be familiar with is the Rio Grande Valley’s and Hidalgo County’s existing relationship with automobile manufacturing and the value it may bring to Tesla Motors.”
An hour later, Musk tweeted back: “Note is much appreciated.”
Musk already runs his SpaceX rocket launch pad from the next door Gulf Coast Cameron County. But Cortez said in his letter that Hidalgo County “has a community of manufacturing facilities called maquiladoras that operate on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, based in Hidalgo County, which caters to automobile manufacturing operations.”
The Mexican auto plants are headquartered in the city of Monterrey, about two hours south of McAllen, Texas.
“All that is necessary is for you to pick out a location on which to build your manufacturing plants, something that I am happy to help you choose,” Cortez wrote.
The judge added that Texas no longer has a shelter-at-home mandate due to COVID-19, a jab at California, which still requires residents to stay at home during this pandemic, which has forced the Tesla plant to remain idle.
Cortez told Border Report on Monday afternoon that it was a shot in the dark and he’s pleasantly surprised by Musk’s response.
“I believe in angels and who knows. There’s an old saying: Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” Cortez said. “I think we’re pretty neat so I think if they come over here and take a look at it. Who knows?”
Cortez stressed a young and able Hispanic border workforce; low-cost of living; subtropical, sunny year-round climate and burgeoning higher education institutions, including UTRGV, which on Saturday graduated its first class of medical doctors.
On Saturday, Tesla filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that Alameda County had violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment and sought an injunction to allow its plant in Freemont, Calif., to begin production immediately.
Musk then took to Twitter on Saturday in a series of tweets saying he would move his company’s headquarters and future programs to Texas and Nevada. He did leave open the possibility to keep some operations in Freemont, however, “depending on how Tesla is treated in the future,” he tweeted.
McAllen Mayor Jim Darling told Border Report on Monday he would welcome Musk and his crew with open arms and treat him as best as possible right now, if the business mogul would consent to coming to Hidalgo County.
“We would welcome Musk and roll out the electric carpet for him,” Darling said. “We’ve been trying to land a car company down here for quite a while.”
Now the only hurdle, Darling said, is to convince Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to consider auto manufacturing as an “essential service” and to allow the Mexican car plants to also reopen.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com.