AUSTIN (KXAN) — Engineer and tech entrepreneur Elon Musk is causing the rumor mill to churn Wednesday after it was noticed that the location for his Twitter account was changed temporarily to Austin.
Musk’s company, Tesla, is based in Palo Alto, California. Musk is known to frequently change his social media bio to mimic his real-world decisions. For example, he changed his Twitter name to “Treelon” and his profile picture to a photo of a forest after he pledged to donate $1 million worth of trees to a YouTuber’s tree-planting campaign.
The Twitter bio change happened around the same time he tweeted a cryptic poll with the caption, “Giga Texas?” Many speculate that Musk is hinting he plans to build another Tesla Gigafactory in Central Texas.
The Tesla Gigafactory, called Gigafactory 1, in Nevada where electric motors, battery packs and energy storage products are produced is touted as the largest building in the world and powered entirely by renewable energy sources.
Gigafactory 2 is located in Buffalo, New York. There’s also a factory in California that employs 10,000 people.
Musk also replied to one of his own tweets about Tesla exploring artificial intelligence in cars. He said his company was looking for world-class chip designers to join their team in Palo Alto and Austin.
Manufacturing industry in Central Texas
As speculations continued, Robb Misso, Global Vice President at Ultra Clean Technology, said about Musk’s tweet, “I’m not surprised at all. Our infrastructure is incredible for manufacturing. It’s set up very well.”
Misso said many people don’t realize just how many manufacturing companies call the Austin region home.
“Manufacturing is #1 contributor to GDP in Central Texas today,” he explained. “In 25 years, we have developed a much more focused education system. Austin has truly become a manufacturing city.”
According to Austin Chamber’s Senior Vice President of Economic Development Charisse Bodisch, more than 16,000 people in the area work in manufacturing.
She told KXAN “A lot of the manufacturers we work with, 50% of our projects is manufacturing related.”
Bodisch said the companies are interested in moving their headquarters to Central Texas or opening new locations here because they’re looking for people of all skill levels.
“They have people that’ll be working on a line or doing some type of assembly, but then they also have very technical jobs, and they need people with software, IT type skills,” she explained. “We can fulfill all of those requirements right here in our region.”
At Austin Community College, Laura Marmolejo teaches manufacturing classes.
She said you can get entry-level jobs with just months of training.
“You want a job now. We can train you in a short period of time and get you a job now,” she said. “But the exciting part is that these companies, based on your performance, the growth rate is much faster.”
That means your income can grow quickly as your skills increase. Marmolejo said the number of job openings is rising, too.
“I hear every week, we get companies calling, wanting interns or full-time. They really want the full-timers, but we don’t have enough students. So we need students to help satisfy the needs of these companies,” she said.
Bodisch said they speak frequently with companies that want to open in Austin, so if Tesla is interested, she said, “Elon, come on over, let’s have a little chat!”
Tesla’s rocky history with Texas
Speculation aside, Tesla has a rocky history with the Lone Star State. Texas is one of few states to not allow the direct sale of Tesla vehicles.
In 2019, Senate Bill 1415 was introduced and many feared it would stop Tesla owners from accessing service centers for their vehicles in the state. State Senator Kelly Hancock described the concerns as “unfounded,” stating that the bill would not have impacted Tesla service centers because the bill only applied to licensed franchise dealers and dealerships – not service centers.
KXAN has reached out to Tesla asking about any future plans for Texas. The company has yet to respond.