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Governor: New Mexico competitive for Tesla plant

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico offered a competitive economic development package to Tesla Motors, but the company gave a priority to locating a planned $5 billion battery factory in a state close to Tesla's electric-car manufacturing factory in California, Gov. Susana Martinez said Thursday.

Martinez made her comments Thursday not long before a formal announcement in Nevada that Tesla had selected that state for a factory that could eventually employ up to 6,500 workers.

The governor of Nevada said he'll ask legislators to approve tax breaks and other incentives worth up to $1.3 billion over 20 years to secure the Tesla plant.

Martinez and Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela declined to provide details or a total value of the incentive package offered by New Mexico. The governor said it was premature to reveal that information because published reports indicate Tesla might look to develop a second site in case Nevada can't deliver its promised incentives.

"Why would you show your cards if there might be a second location?" Martinez said. "For us to lay out the economic package is to tell the rest of the competitors what we had out there, and that isn't really playing poker very smart."

However, Tesla CEO Elon Musk told reporters in Nevada the company would no longer look for another state because "Nevada is it."

Barela said he briefly talked to Tesla officials Wednesday when it was first revealed that Nevada had beat out New Mexico and three other states for the battery plant. But the company executives didn't provide details of what would be announced in Nevada, he said.

The governor said she hadn't talked to Tesla officials Wednesday or Thursday.

But Martinez said, "We had always been given accolades for our incentive program that we were offering."

She said a member of the company's site team once told state officials, "You have a great incentive package put together. Is there any way you can move your state a little closer to California?"

"Proximity to California was important to them," Martinez said at a news conference.

The Republican governor, who is up for re-election this year, has come under criticism from some Democrats over the administration's efforts to land the Tesla plant.

"It's not our location or lack of resources, it's a failure of leadership by the Martinez administration," Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gary King, the state's current attorney general, said Wednesday after learning that New Mexico had lost out to Nevada.

Martinez and Barela stressed that Tesla officials hadn't provided them with details about its Nevada decision.

The governor said losing out to Nevada in the competition for the Tesla factory wouldn't hurt the state, and there has been more interest among businesses in looking at development options in New Mexico because the state was a finalist for the battery plant.

Martinez and Barela made their comments after they and local officials announced that a Santa Fe brewery was expanding and adding 105 jobs.

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Follow Barry Massey on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bmasseyAP

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