In July 2020, Tesla began the construction of its Gigafactory in Austin, TX, which many nicknamed Giga Texas. Yes, it’s been a year and it’s expected to be up and running by the end of this year. Tesla may not be producing vehicles from the factory just yet, but its impact is being felt all throughout the Austin area, a bit more broadly in Texas, and even some of the neighboring states.
Since Tesla has been in Texas, the company has had numerous achievements, made promises that it has kept, and infused the area with clean energy jobs. Let’s look at some of the impacts that Tesla has had on the region over the past year.
Tesla Partners With HBCU
In July of last year, Huston-Tillotson University in Austin (HT), which happens to be Austin’s oldest university and only Historical Black College and University (HBCU), announced that it and Tesla were partnering to provide internships and jobs for its students. Tesla wants a diverse workforce, and working with HBCUs is a great step toward achieving that goal. Read more.
Analysis: Tesla’s Effect On Austin
I analyzed and added my thoughts about an article published by Statesman in which the writer wanted to look at how good of an impact “The Tesla Effect” would have on the Del Valle area. This article was published in August of last year. When comparing today’s progress with last year’s thoughts, a clearer picture starts to form.
The article mentioned the possibility of jobs, retail, and housing for an area that has historically lacked employment centers and fundamental services. The article mentioned that there wasn’t a library, but I recall being called out for that claim when I made a specific request for a library in the region. It turns that there are libraries nearby. I tend to be pretty literal in my thinking and kind of thought that when they said no libraries, they meant no libraries at all. I was glad to have been proven wrong since libraries were fundamental to my childhood and learning.
That aside, the thought at the time was that Tesla is going to vastly improve the area, and today, it’s doing just that.
Giga Texas Will Be Colossal
Plans for the Gigafactory were shared on Twitter in September of last year, and Daniel Ives from Wedbush Securities had thoughts as to what this factory was really about. “I see, ultimately, them making this much more than a typical factory,” Ives said. “It’s not just about the factory.”
He also added that Tesla would probably “take advantage of Austin’s engineering talent.”
During Tesla’s Q2 earnings call last year, Elon Musk shared what his vision for Giga Texas was. “It’s about 2,000 acres, and we’re going to make it a factory that is going to be stunning. It’s right on the Colorado River, so there’s actually going to be a boardwalk where there’ll be a hiking and biking trail. It’s going to basically be an ecological paradise, birds in the trees, butterflies, fish in the stream, and they will be open to the public as well. So, not closed and only for Tesla.”
Giga Texas Construction Started Going 24/7
I interviewed Jeff Roberts who is a member of the Giga Texas Quad Squad, which is a group of drone pilots given permission by Elon Musk to document the daily progress of Giga Texas’ construction. Jeff shared that Tesla’s onsite security confirmed that 24/7 construction had started and that there were lights being rigged up.
After publishing that interview, the business owner of the company who makes those lights reached out to me on LinkedIn. Corey Bordelon is the owner of Boss Ltg, which is a business headquartered right here in Baton Rouge where I live. This is why I said in my introductory paragraph to this article that impacts of Giga Texas are even being felt in neighboring states. Corey shared the story of how he got connected to Tesla. Corey had already done business with the contractors hired to build Giga Texas.
“The contractors actually brought it to Tesla,” he said, and detailed how they informed Tesla that they wanted to use Boss Ltg’s stadium lights. “Tesla was all on board and we are right now in the process of talking to them about solar lights and different electrical lights and different other lights that we can put out there that we manufacture and build here in Baton Rouge.”
Corey’s company was also beneficial to the disaster cleanup in Calcasieu and Jefferson Davis Parishes from Hurricane Laura.
Tesla’s Partnership With Del Valle ISD
In April 2021, Tesla and Del Valle ISD partnered to train students who are graduating high school. Del Valle ISD’s principal, Alex Torrez, was hired as the school district’s chief workforce development person, and one of his goals was to create a student training program with Tesla.
About a month later, in May, Tesla and Del Valle ISD held a signing day event for the school’s 2021 graduates. Several were selected to work at Giga Texas. Del Valle ISD Superintendent Annet Tielle shared with me how excited she was for her students.
“I am extremely proud of our seniors and honored to have them represent Del Valle ISD at the first-ever signing day in Texas. Joining the Tesla team is a great opportunity for them, and their futures are limitless.”
The Tesla Owners Club of Austin was also there and Anuarbek Imanov, the vice president of the club, touched upon how Tesla kept its promise to the local community.
“When Tesla first came into the community here, there was a lot of pushback. People were saying that Tesla is going to come in like Google and Facebook and all these other tech companies and promise the world but not really have an impact on the local community.
“Tesla’s getting super involved with the community before they’ve even finished the factory! They are already offering local jobs. Even the food that was at the event was made by Del Valle high school students. They have a catering program at the high school. They made the cake for the celebration. So, talk about hiring and sourcing locally.”
Tesla And Austin Community College Partner Up For Tesla’s START Manufacturing Program
Last month, Austin Community College (ACC) and Tesla announced the launch of a 14-week training program giving students the hands-on learning they needed for a manufacturing career at Tesla. The new Tesla START Manufacturing Program at ACC is the first of its kind and students who participate will be paid employees at Tesla as they complete the program. Upon completion, they are eligible for a full-time position.
Giga Texas Named Manufacturing Project Of The Year
Area Development Magazine named Tesla’s Gigafactory Texas “Manufacturing Project of the Year.” The publication said that Giga Texas could create an additional 4,000 jobs in addition to its promised 5,000 jobs. Tesla’s partnerships with the Del Valle ISD and higher education institutions such as ACC and HT played a role as well. Area Development Magazine said that Tesla was quickly turning the dirt and putting up the steel after it announced Austin as the site for Giga Texas.
These are just some of the impacts that Tesla is having on Texas. Tesla is hiring for thousands of jobs, is starting a solar neighborhood there, and is bringing a focus on sustainability to a state that is mostly known for being loyal to the oil industry. Once Giga Texas is online and production has started, I think we will see more positive impacts of Tesla being in Texas.