3:21 p.m. update:
At the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, CEO Mike Kazmierski says it will be tough to compete with bigger states for the gigafactory in terms of dollars but Nevada has other advantages.
Kazmierski on Nevada's gigafactory chances: "I'd be reticent to say anything's been decided. We just have to make them see our advantages."
What you need to know about today's announcement. Liz Margerum/RGJ
3:12 update: Here's the latest photo of the Reno-area site that Tesla Motors has been grading to prep for a possible battery gigafactory. Tesla confirmed today it has broken ground at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, with possible plans to make lithium-ion batteries for its electric cars.
2:15 p.m. update:
Tesla confirmed Thursday it has broken ground near Reno on a much anticipated "gigafactory" battery plant that many say would be a game-changer for Northern Nevada's economy.
The work is being done at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center in Storey County, just east of the Reno-Sparks area. The Reno Gazette-Journal was the first to report in June that Tesla was likely the company working on the land at the industrial center.
The location in Northern Nevada remains one of five potential sites that could get the gigafactory where the electric car maker would manufacture lithium ion batteries for its Model 3 car. The other states in the running are Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. The final site will be announced in the coming months, the company said.
"We see these concurrent efforts as prudent," Tesla said in its press release.
HOW THEY DO IT: What's in a lithium-ion battery
BY THE NUMBERS: 10 things to know about a Tesla gigafactory
"Any potentially duplicative investments are minor compared to the revenue that could be lost if the launch of Model 3 were affected by any delays at our primary gigafactory site."
Lance Gilman, the developer of the industrial center where Tesla is doing work, told the RGJ Thursday the project is one of the largest grading projects ever in the United States.
"We have finished a superpad to accommodate 5 million square feet," Gilman said. "We moved several million cubic yards of material."
He added Tesla is still working on other sites.
"Speed is critical to them. We finished this in 3 1/2 weeks," he said. "There's nowhere else in world you can get a project up as fast as here. Tesla can start pouring concrete next week if they desire."
Gilman said reports of Tesla stopping work at the Northern Nevada industrial center are partially true.
"They have reached transition point that they're going to add square feet," he said.
2:54 p.m. update:
Elon Musk says the state of Nevada is expected to kick in about 10 percent of the cost, or about $400 million to $500.
"We want incentives that make sense at the state level," Musk said. "We're not going for a deal that's unfair to state or Tesla."
2:50 p.m. update:
Elon Musk confirms one or two other states will still get groundbreakings on gigafactory projects.
Musk says the ball is in the court of the governor and the Nevada Legislature.
1:55 p.m. update:
Tahoe Regional Industrial Park developer Lance Gilman said he was told that the grading at his park for Tesla was one of the largest ever in the United States.
"We have finished a superpad to accommodate 5 million square feet. We moved several million cubic yards of material," Gilman said. "Is Nevada in the lead? Yeah, if you look at it as a horse race, we're light years ahead of the others.
"Tesla says they're still working on other sites," Gilman said. "Speed is critical to them. We finished this in 3 1/2 weeks."
He boasted that building can be done quickly in Storey County.
"Tesla can start pouring concrete next week if they desire," Gilman said.
Today's developments came after months of anticipation and anxiety among the states -- Nevada, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California and most recently, Washington -- which have courted Tesla for the gigafactory.
Tahoe Reno Industrial Center and Reno Stead Airport in Nevada have been considered potential targets for the gigafactory, with TRIC thought to be the favored choice given the business park's size, more than 100,000 acres, and rail and highway access directly to the San Francisco Bay Area and Tesla's car-manufacturing plant in Fremont.
CEO Elon Musk and his staff had been tight-lipped since announcing last February that Nevada was among the possible states for the gigafactory, which Tesla estimates will be as big as 10 million square feet in size and employ 6,500 people by 2020.
Then in May, Tesla said it would select, starting in June, two or three finalist states to begin construction simultaneously as a way to maximize speed and minimize risk of delays before a winning site is selected by year's end. It also noted that California could be a possible contender.
But June and nearly all of July passed and still there was no word on which sites from the original four semi finalists would advance to the finalist stage. And in fact, Tesla's home state of California, once considered a long shot, is now seriously in the running, Tesla has said, and reports last week in Tech Times and the Los Angeles Times said Stockton, south of Sacramento, is the favored locale.
On the Nevada front, speculation has pointed to grading work started in late May on a 600-acre site, dubbed "Project Tiger" and closed to curious onlookers, at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center 17 miles east of Sparks.
When grading stopped abruptly last week, the rumors revved up: It meant a no-go for a gigafactory in Nevada. No, it was merely a pause in the prep work. No, the site has gone dark and silent.
"It wasn't unplanned. They're at a stopping point, a natural pause, with a different starting element to come," Lance Gilman, TRIC developer, said Wednesday.
Citing a nondisclosure agreement, he refused to identify the business targeted for the grading work. But he said, "The building got bigger by several million square feet. Some plans have changed. To my knowledge, it's still an open book. There will be more to come."
At the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, uncertainty, to some degree, surfaced before today's developments.
Two months ago, CEO Mike Kazmierski said, "I'm confident we're on the short list."
But on Wednesday, he was more elaborative, saying, "While we are on the short list, there may be other offers that will be hard for (Tesla) to refuse. We are a small region and state competing with others that have significantly more to offer. We will win regardless of the outcome as we are now considered a viable option for business and manufacturing in the West as a result of the national media associated with this project."
Earlier today, Tesla and Panasonic Corp. announced an agreement on the battery-making venture.