2020 Economic Development Deal Of The Year

Our inbox was filled with dozens of transformative high-tech projects vying to become our 2020 Deal of The Year Award winners. The best of the best offer a snapshot of an industrial future that is speeding toward us.

By Business Facilities Editorial Staff
From the January/February 2021 Issue

If you want a snapshot of which industries (and technologies) will emerge as leaders in the near future, Business Facilities’ annual Deal of the Year (DOTY) competition is the first place you should look.

Size still counts in our DOTY contest, but now we’re measuring square footage of Gigafactories in the multi millions. The cost of industrial electricity no doubt is still a factor in site selection decisions, but some of the most electric submissions for our 2020 DOTY awards involved new types of electricity on both ends of the deal, including a lithium battery plant, an 800-mile wind power transmission line, an auto assembly plant in a nature habitat that will build electric Cadillacs, and the aforementioned Gigafactory, which will produce an electric Cybertruck in a facility run on renewable energy.

Not impressed yet? The list of 2020 DOTY winners also includes the prototype for a magnetic-levitation Hyperloop transit system that will repurpose old coal tunnels and a $10-billion deal to replace America’s ground-based intercontinental ballistic missile system. Speaking of repurposing, one of winners is a complex that will convert renewable feedstocks into diesel fuel.

What hasn’t changed with this year’s DOTY contest is the ingenuity and dedication of the economic development organizations, higher education resources and skilled workers who are bringing the future to rising locations from coast to coast—and making it work in real time.

And so, without further ado, here are the winners of our 2020 DOTY awards.


Size counted in this year’s competition for our top DOTY award: The $1.1-billion, 4-million-square-foot Tesla Gigafactory lands the biggest prize for Greater Austin, TX.
Project Title: Tesla Gigafactory
Entered By: Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce/Opportunity Austin

It was certainly the most coveted economic development project of the year, and now it’s delivered the Gold Award of BF’s 2020 Deal of the Year competition to Greater Austin, TX: Tesla’s newest Gigafactory, which will produce the electric-vehicle leader’s radical wedge-shaped Cybertruck.

The four-million-square-foot facility will be one of the world’s largest and most advanced automotive plants, a $1.1 billion capital investment that will bring at least 5,000 new jobs to Travis County, TX.

“Tesla is one of the most exciting and innovative companies in the world, and we are proud to welcome its team to the State of Texas,” Gov. Greg Abbott said at the project announcement. “Texas has the best workforce in the nation and we’ve built an economic environment that allows companies like Tesla to innovate and succeed. Tesla’s Gigafactory Texas will keep the Texas economy the strongest in the nation and will create thousands of jobs for hard-working Texans. I look forward to the tremendous benefits that Tesla’s investment will bring to Central Texas and to the entire state.”

Tesla Gigafactory 2020 Economic Development Deal Of The Year
Tesla is building its newest Gigafactory, a 4-million-square-foot assembly plant in Travis County, TX (rendering above), which will produce electric trucks.

The factory will be built on 2,100 acres off Texas 130 and Harold Green Road in southeastern Travis County. The site is about five minutes from Austin’s airport and 15 minutes from downtown Austin. When he announced the selection of the Texas plant site, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company plans to build its new factor in an “ecological paradise” open to the public with boardwalks and trails near the Colorado River.

The Gigafactory in Travis County will build the new Cybertruck pickup truck and the Tesla Semi, a long-haul commercial truck, as well as Model 3 and Model Y vehicles.


Tesla’s mercurial founder Elon Musk is known for the speed as well as the unprecedented scope of his Gigafactory projects. Greater Austin adapted quickly to what became known as “the speed of Elon” after the Cybertruck plant project first surfaced in early January 2020.

Time was of the essence: Tesla picked its short list of candidate sites in April—and the contenders, including Greater Austin, were given three months to make their case for the big prize. The winning site was chosen in July and the goal of the project is to have the new Gigafactory become operation in July 2021. As the site selection process hit critical stages for the consideration of incentives, most offices were working remotely. The Chamber team, along with the governor’s office, held virtual meetings and worked to compress timelines for hearings and permits.

Opportunity Austin, an economic development initiative focused on the five-county Central Texas region, estimates that for every one job created directly by the Gigafactory four indirect and induced jobs will be created in the region.

Tesla will also generate millions of dollars in tax revenue for local and state governments each year. The company intends to invest in the Greater Austin community through workforce initiatives, technical colleges and programs for K-12 schools.


  • $344 million in direct economic impact upon full employment (2023).
  • 5,000 direct new jobs; 4,143 indirect new jobs; and 2,875 induced jobs.
  • $236 million in direct new wages upon full employment (2023).

Click here to read about this year’s Silver Deal of the Year winner!