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Grand opening of Tesla’s new gigafactory kicks off in Del Valle Thursday

This photo shows a sign bearing the company logo outside a Tesla store Feb. 9, 2019 in Cherry Creek Mall in Denver.
David Zalubowski
/
Associated Press
This photo shows a sign bearing the company logo outside a Tesla store Feb. 9, 2019 in Cherry Creek Mall in Denver.

The grand opening of Tesla’s new gigafactory for electric vehicles will kick off in the Austin area Thursday afternoon.

About 15,000 people are expected to attend the event in Del Valle, which starts at 4 p.m. CT. Traffic concerns resulted in Del Valle Independent School District closing early.

When it was first announced in 2020 that the $1 billion factory was going to be built in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott said it would create at least 5,000 new jobs.

Now, it could be thousands more.

“They’re looking at reportedly hiring about 10,000 workers fairly quickly and ultimately about 20,000 workers making several different models as well as some battery accessories and that sort of thing at the plant,” said Ray Perryman, president and CEO of Waco-based Perryman Group, an economic research firm.

Perryman believes the economic impact will be far-reaching not just for Austin, but Texas as a whole.

“We think the ultimate impact of the first round of hiring could be as much as 35,000 jobs across the state of Texas, and also, about $3.5 billion or so in annual gross products,” he told The Texas Newsroom. “So, these are very, very significant numbers that this facility could bring.”

While the grand opening is exciting for the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Bryce Bencivengo, the chamber’s director of public relations and media, said it’s not just about the number of jobs it will bring to the region.

“It’s also the secondary and tertiary things that we're going to see that pop up around an investment like this, where other businesses and suppliers and industries that help something like a Tesla gigafactory operate are also going to be brought to the region and are going to be able to expand local businesses that serve those folks or relocate new business here,” he said.

Bencivengo added, what excites the Austin Chamber most is how a new, large employer in the region could also “invigorate” these different types of businesses.

“Everything,” he said. “All the way down from janitorial service, all the way up to EV [Electric Vehicle] car parts.”

Both Bencivengo and economist Perryman told The Texas Newsroom that Tesla’s gigafactory could be a catalyst for growth in the state, with Perryman adding it “really gives us a presence in a newly emerging industry.”

“It also tells us — as the automobile industry diversifies as we move more and more toward more climate sensitive solutions to things — that Texas is going to be a part of that aspect of the industry, much as it has been in the more traditional side,” said Perryman. “From both a strategic standpoint and the sheer magnitude of this, this is a significant location for Texas.”

Perryman noted Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk, have made other significant investments in Texas.

Last year, Tesla moved its corporate headquarters from California to Austin. Musk is also the founder of SpaceX, which has launch sites in Texas.
Copyright 2022 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

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