EDITOR: Tesla could bring name recognition to Peoria

News Editor Philip Haldiman

Tesla is known for its innovative automobiles and visionary owner Elon Musk.

His business transactions and creations turn heads world-wide.

Now, maybe some of that name recognition will rub off on the city of Peoria.

Last month, Tesla announced the $218 million acquisition of San Diego-based Maxwell Technologies, which has a facility in Peoria.

Maxwell Technologies is an advanced manufacturer and distributor of battery and ultracapacitor technologies and the merger could help Tesla in the production of its electric automobiles (which, by the way, I have been lucky to take a cruise in one of the latest models, and it was pretty sleek, not to mention way more advanced than your normal, combustible engine relic).

But Maxwell shareholders sued to block the deal according to reports that it significantly undervalued the company.

Maxwell would not comment on the law suit, but if the merger happens, it might not hurt to have a name like Tesla in Peoria’s backyard.

Economic Development Services Director Rick Buss told me the city cannot comment on any legal matters, particularly matters that Peoria is not a party to. But he did say Maxwell Technologies validates Peoria as a place for future-ready, technology-driven companies, and the brand of Tesla enables Peoria to deliver that message to a wider audience who associate Tesla with cutting-edge products, innovation, and advanced technologies.

“In collaboration with Tesla/Maxwell Technologies, Peoria seeks to highlight this association to promote Peoria as being world class, sustainable, and future-ready. Certainly, the Tesla brand augments this message,” he said.

Since 2013, the city approved 121 new commercial tenant permits, about a 350 percent increase.

Mr. Buss said Maxwell Technologies is one of the success stories, opening a Peoria location in 2014, which now employs 37 people.

The city uses a variety of methods and strategies to attract companies including relationship development and cultivation, he said.

“The manufacturer successfully located to Peoria after a collaboration of multiple parties that included the city, state, Regional Economic Development Organization, and the federal government,” he said. “Various programs were provided to assist Maxwell Technologies, not only in locating in Peoria, but also to help them expand. This included a Foreign Trade Zone designation, a program that provides tariff relief and property tax relief.”

The publicly traded company generated $33.73 million in revenue during the last quarter.

“Maxwell Technology has a highly skilled workforce that designs and manufactures cutting edge energy storage products, including specialized ultra-capacitors and advanced battery technology,” Mr. Buss said. “Maxwell demonstrates that Peoria and the West Valley have a strong talent pool and can support high-tech, innovative, and future ready companies.”

Which just goes to show you, if you keep on a continued path with a focused plan to positive economic development, who knows — a transformative guy like Mr. Musk might end up on your doorstep. Even if it is in a round-about sort of way.

Editor’s note: Mr. Haldiman is the editor of the Peoria Today.

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