Elon Musk gave a Texas town $30 million. They had no idea it was coming.
Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP
On Tuesday, Elon Musk announced on Twitter that he would give $10 million to revitalize Brownsville, a tiny desert town in the corner of Texas, and another $20 million for its public school system. It was news to the world — and also news to the mayor of Brownsville.
"Unfortunately at this time, I am unable to give you much information as we are still not sure about any details," Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez wrote to Protocol. "This came as a surprise to everyone yesterday morning and we have not had a chance to speak with Mr. Musk to obtain more information."
Brownsville sits at the edge of Cameron County, Texas, whose unincorporated land (meaning there's no city or town government) also houses a massive SpaceX rocket production and launch facility. SpaceX rocket tests regularly jet up over Cameron County and into the Gulf of Mexico.
Earlier this year, Musk said that he would be incorporating a town he called Starbase, Texas in the currently unincorporated land, though the county judge told Business Insider at the time that Musk would need to file all the requisite paperwork and gain county approval. Musk and Mendez also announced plans for a new Tesla facility and showroom in Brownsville in December 2020.
After his donation announcement, Musk (who has already announced his own move to Texas) encouraged people to move to what he's already calling "Starbase." He claimed SpaceX will be hiring engineers, technicians and builders and that the region will grow in population by several thousand over the next few years.
Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (@ anna_c_kramer), where she helps write and produce Source Code, Protocol's daily newsletter. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.