While Elon Musk continues to make headlines with new innovations with Tesla and SpaceX, his Solar City imprint is continuing to raise eyebrows as it prepares the buildout of its largest plant in the United States.
According to WBFO 88.7 Buffalo’s NPR News Station, at least two Buffalo Common Councilmembers have voiced concerns that the Solar City project may not be all its cracked up to me. “These jobs are the Chevy and the Ford jobs of our time,” saidUniversity District Councilmember Rasheed Wyatt. “If we’re going to lift up these boats, folks need these jobs and it’s very urgent for us to make sure that they have been patient for all this time.”
“They’ve been going through the ups and downs of the issues of SolarCity,” Wyatt continued in a an interview with WBFO, “now it’s time for the rubber to hit the road. There are jobs that’s going to be available beginning early 2017 and we don’t want a single resident that has the ability to get a job to miss out on this opportunity.”
South Buffalo Councilmember Chris Scanlon wasn’t quite as optimistic. “This company received $750 million to locate here and, it’s been my experience at every turn, whether it be with HR people I’ve met with or other people, they’re treating us as thought we should be thankful that they came here, when, in my opinion, it’s the other way around,” he said in a tersely-worded letter to Solar City citing the company’s treatment of his district, “We did them the favor. They didn’t do us the favor. We did them the favor. We gave them $750 million to come here.”
With 1500 jobs up for grabs, the Councilman want to be sure that the people in the community can benefit from the perceived economic opportunity that Solar City’s presence will bring to the area. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown has also expressed his commitment to making sure local residents get hired at this new factory. “Obviously I join the City Council in pushing very aggressively to maximize job opportunities for city residents at SolarCity,” he said in an interview with WBFO. “We will be pushing as hard as we can to make sure that a large number of city residents are hired.”
The first of Solar City’s preliminary information sessions for entry-level positions was held on December 5. According to Councilmembers, however, the jobs listed on the company’s website reflect high-skill/high-tech occupations, exacerbating concerns that local residents may be left out the employment boom the local government is hoping for.