Tesla plans to spend over $700 million to expand Austin gigafactory

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Central Texas’ biggest manufacturer is about to get even bigger.

Tesla plans to invest $717 million to build an additional 1.4 million square feet at its Austin gigafactory. Plans call for the construction and completion of four new buildings at 1 Tesla Road, starting later this month.

That’s all according to plans filed with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation on Jan. 9 and obtained by KXAN media partners from the Austin Business Journal.

Bryce Bencivengo of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce said less than a year after opening the gigafactory, the automaker had already diversified the local economy.

“We’re obviously still a tech city and most of the jobs we added to Austin were in tech, but right behind that our second growing sector in our economy was auto manufacturing,” he said.

Bencivengo said the growth includes not just Tesla, but other companies that supply parts for the company.

He said another expansion could also boost the number of jobs.

“We think there will be a great opportunity for them to get…additional well-paying jobs in the area,” Bencivengo said.

The company had said its current facility would need 10,000 workers and partnered with Del Valle ISD and Austin Community College for training and hiring.

“We can go very fast as a team and we can grow,” a Tesla spokesperson said at an ACC event showcasing its 2021 Tesla START program.

The 14-week training program prepares technicians for the new gigafactory.

Laura Marmolejo, Associate Dean for ACC Advanced Manufacturing, has been involved with Tesla START since its inception.

“Over the past year and a half, we’ve had over 3,000 inquiries,” she said.

Marmolejo welcomed the news of a possible expansion of Giga Texas.

“It’s exciting because it means there are more opportunities for people in central Texas to get jobs,” she said.

She said that Tesla selects students for ACC’s Tesla START program and that ACC trains them.

ACC also trains students that Tesla selects from Del Valle ISD to be future workers, she said.

“It’s one of the programs that gives high school graduates direct access to employment, and they start with a seven-week training course with us. And then they go to work after that,” Marmolejo explained.

The dirt could ignite four new buildings that could begin this month, but there are still lingering issues with the construction of the original gigafactory.

In November, dozens of people who built the gigafactory said Tesla contractors and subcontractors were not following safety protocols and still owed workers money.

“It doesn’t matter who the contractor is, who was the subcontractor… The power rests with the developer, in this case Tesla, to commit to higher standards,” said Juan Benitez of Workers Defence. Project, the group that filed complaints with the US Department of Defense. Work on behalf of workers.

Tesla is the second major employer in Austin this week to say now is the time to build for years to come, despite uncertainty on the horizon for the year ahead.

According to the ABJ, Apple has also filed similar documents to invest about a quarter of a billion dollars more in building new office buildings on the North Side.

On the other hand, tech giants, such as Amazon and Facebook, have indicated they will cut local jobs for the foreseeable future.

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