The Cuomo Administration has taken a lot of heat over the Riverbend project on South Park Avenue in Buffalo. The current home of "Tesla's Gigafactory 2" cost New York state taxpayers $750 million to build in 2014. And the jobs promised were slow in coming. But the solar panel factory has seen significant growth in recent months.
The gigafactory offers more than one million square feet of manufacturing space under one roof. The goal was for Solar City to make solar panels. But the company never got off the ground and was taken over, in 2016, by Tesla - which began production last year on its new solar roof modules
"I think the aesthetic of the actual product is kind of mind blowing. You can see it on a roof. But when you see it up close you really notice - how - it's complex technology that looks wonderful," said
Alex Finnerty. He's a quality inspector for Tesla.
Demand is so strong the company now has 800 full-time employees on site - a 30-percent increase since June. Facilities Maintenance Tech Corey Leone used to work in local coal fired power plants.
"I love it here. It's been nothing like I've had before in previous employment. The culture here is unbelievable," Leone said.
Tesla's still looking for more workers. But it's already exceeded its hiring target with the state months ahead of schedule by 60%.
Daniel Montante is President Montante Solar. The Buffalo based company's installed dozens of commercial and industrial solar energy systems across the region. Montante says the solar roof is a great way to go.
"Anytime a competitor in the industry can make moves to expand the market, the addressful market for that industry, that's a great move," Montante said.
Tesla expects to ramp up solar roof production more quickly in the coming months, and says, that it's on track to meet its target of 1,460 jobs in Buffalo.