Lt. Gov.: Cuomo administration remains confident in Riverbend factory

Jul 11, 2017

While appearing in Western New York to announce an investment using Buffalo Billion II dollars, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was asked about the largest investment from the original Buffalo Billion and when the jobs and manufacturing will get underway in the city's RiverBend section.

The million-square-foot factory space along South Park in Buffalo's RiverBend section was originally built for SolarCity. Production was previously expected to begin by now. Lt. Gov. Hochul, without providing any specific dates, suggested work may begin within the massive RiverBend complex by the "end of the summer."

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during an appearance Monday in Western New York.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

"Most people are recognizing that the fact it had three different owners in the time since the Governor announced our agreement to this a few years ago, that obviously complicates matters," Hochul said following an appearance in the Town of Evans on Monday. "But we are moving full steam ahead."

Since the state originally announced its $750 million commitment to kindle the project, Solar City - a company chaired by billionaire Elon Musk - was acquired by Tesla Motors, which is also led by Musk. 

Then came the announcement late last year that Panasonic was investing $250 million into Tesla's Buffalo operations, forging a partnership in solar energy component production. 

Tesla has remained committed to creating approximately 1,400 job while believing it may encourage further job growth among its service providers. But SolarCity and Tesla have endured struggles on Wall Street. SolarCity has also been in the spotlight for controversies including an investigation reported earlier this year into allegations of improper disclosures of contract cancelation numbers.

While in Western New York Monday to announce Buffalo Billion II funding for Graycliff Estate, Lt. Gov. Hochul expressed the Cuomo's continued confidence in the project, crediting Panasonic's entry as a "game changer."

"It breathes new life into their future," she said. "Solar is going to be strong. But also creating the synergy between solar and production of batteries with Panasonic is going to take it into the future. We're very confident this is going to all work out in short time."