How Faraday Future ended up in North Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS - Three weeks after Politics NOW co-host Patrick Walker first reported that Faraday Future would resume construction on a scaled-down version of its billion-dollar electric car plant, the company has confirmed it's accepting bids to build it.

Executives say the company will build the rest of the $3 million factory sometime after cars come off the assembly line in 2018.

It has been a long road getting to this point.

The I-Team has extensively covered the story of Faraday Future's journey to North Las Vegas. And now, 8 News NOW has uncovered thousands of pages of once -- confidential -- emails which tell the story of how and why Faraday Future chose Apex Industrial park.

In the early stages, the effort to bring this new company to town was known only by a code name to those involved -- Project Robin.

8 News NOW filed Freedom of Information Act requests with North Las Vegas and the state to put together the sequence of events that led to Faraday Future saying yes to the Silver State.

In response, North Las Vegas provided thousands of emails dating back to early 2015. The Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED) gave 8 News NOW a few hundred pages. 8 News NOW also had the opportunity to sit down with the agency's director, Steve Hill.

In April of 2016, Faraday Future broke ground at Apex Industrial park. It came a year-and-a-half after a whirlwind journey initiated by North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee and city staff.

"The city is the real beneficiary," said North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee. "The region is the beneficiary. The people who will participate in the success of the whole valley."

In December 2014, Lee and city staff met with a banker who had a Los Angeles based client who might be interested in the Apex Industrial park.

Fast-forward to early February 2015, Lee and city manager Qiong Liu fly to Faraday Future's headquarters in Los Angeles.

Shortly after, they sign a non-disclosure agreement. That was the start of Project Robin.

Commercial real estate developer Cushman and Wakefield represented Faraday Future, as the company looked both inside and outside the U.S. for a location.

By March, Liu had also opened a dialog directly with senior Faraday executive "Tony" Nie.

At the same time, Cushman and Wakefield begins seeking information from the state.

But, they keep the Governor's Office of Economic Development in the dark about what Project Robin is aside from being an auto manufacturer.

In April, the Project Robin team visits Apex for the first time with North Las Vegas officials to look at potential sites.

They visit again in May, and meet with workforce and labor development organizations. In early June, the city lobbies for lawmakers to pass bills that would eventually form the framework for getting some of the needed infrastructure out to Apex.

Days later, North Las Vegas is named a finalist to land the factory.

North Las Vegas officials introduce Faraday Future's executive team to Governor Brian Sandoval in Carson City while state officials try to gather information about the company as they get fully involved in Project Robin.

That's when GOED director Steve Hill enters the conversation and flies to Los Angeles to begin negotiating the incentive deal.

"I wasn't convinced that they were going to commit to try to make it work for Nevada, which is kind of what I was talking about in the negotiations," said Steve Hill, GOED director.

Over the summer of 2015, Hill's team at GOED negotiates with Faraday.

Meanwhile, work is underway to set up a meeting between Governor Sandoval and Faraday Future's billionaire backer, Jia Yueting during a fall trade mission to China.

But at Faraday's request, Mayor Lee was included in that meeting, even as North Las Vegas officials fear a month-and-a-half before the trip that they will be stepping on the governor's toes.

At this time, it was becoming clear North Las Vegas was becoming the front-runner and GOED was busy working on the final deal.

State officials continued gaining confidence in the project and worked out the bills that lawmakers would later tackle during a special session.

"We saw the need and structured a deal that both allowed us to be competitive and provide the opportunity for Nevadans as well as protecting Nevada from any risk that in the project," Hill said.

Lawmakers passed the bills in December 2015. And today, the people who made it happen are happy to share the credit.

"Success has a thousand fathers. Failure is an orphan. I'm fine with that. Anybody that did anything at all to benefit this process is my friend," North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee said.

"North Las Vegas deserves the credit for attracting Faraday to Nevada, and obviously then to North Las Vegas," Hill said.

There was a different tone leading up to the deal's announcement in the fall of 2015. Some media reports minimized North Las Vegas' involvement implying the state wanted the city to get out of the way.

But these emails between the city and Faraday and it's development partners show the company wanted North Las Vegas involved in all steps of the process.

 


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