Tesla’s move into Nevada was predicated on promises. The promise to invest $5 billion in a first-of-its-kind advanced manufacturing facility. The promise to create 6,500 new jobs in a state that desperately needed them. The promise of jump-starting a new era of economic development that was driven by technology and innovation. Today, more than four years after the legislation was crafted to bring the Silicon Valley electric automaker to the Silver State, the promises that laid the foundation for the historic partnership have become a reality – and more.
Case in point, a once-empty patch of land east of Reno is home to the Tesla’s Gigafactory 1, a 5.3 million-square-foot facility where Tesla and Panasonic manufacture batteries and drive trains for Tesla’s vehicles and home power products. The facility isn’t even 50 percent complete, yet 7,000 workers converge on it daily. Notably, this employee count does not include on-site construction workers, nor Tesla’s 1,000 employees located
in Southern Nevada. Tesla has already invested more than $6 billion in facility construction and equipment. Even more impressive: Tesla has invested more dollars and hired more Nevadans in four years, than it committed to invest over ten years.
Beyond the promises for a new facility and new workers, Tesla made a smaller but no less important commitment to education in Nevada. The promise involved supporting educational programs that are focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) as well as creating workforce development programs of its own. Both initiatives will help cultivate a new generation of Nevadans that is better prepared for careers in the state’s emerging high-tech sector. The company’s commitment to education is highlighted by a pledge to donate $37.5 million over five years to schools and educational programs statewide.
Tesla’s first round of giving began last year with $1.5 million in grants to several programs, including nearly half a million dollars to FIRST Nevada and the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation as part of a multi-year campaign to establish robotics programs in every school in the state. Nevada already has one of the most dominant high school robotics teams in the world in Cimarron-Memorial’s Team 987 High Rollers—I can only imagine what they can achieve with Tesla’s backing.
The company’s grants also include support for programs to train teachers in robotics and STEAM, a STEAM-focused overnight youth camp, and Jobs for Nevada’s Graduates, which provides mentoring, support and career guidance for struggling high school students. Tesla has also partnered with school districts and higher education institutions to create a number of workforce development programs that provide apprenticeships and hands-on training opportunities to prepare the next generation for careers in advanced manufacturing, engineering and other high-tech fields.
The results have been trans-formative for the northern Nevada economy and, in many ways, the state overall. Tesla has changed the economic development landscape and perhaps most importantly, the narrative, creating credibility and catalyzing investment from a broad cross-section of future-forward companies. While Tesla was not the first nor the only company to diversify our state’s economy though innovation and investment, its global profile is equaled by very few.
Four years ago, much was expected of Tesla when it came to Nevada. Too often, such grand and ambitious projects end with broken promises. This is not the case here. Thankfully for Nevada, Tesla’s vision and commitment to its mission and the state have pushed the company to not only keep the promises it made, but to exceed them. As a result, thousands of Nevadans go to work in new, advanced industries, our economy is more diversified, and our future is brighter.
Members of the editorial and news staff of the Las Vegas Review-Journal were not involved in the creation of this content.