Buffalo, New York is one of the many U.S. cities suffering an economic depression in the wake of manufacturing decline, but Elon Musk is taking a chance on the border town with a multi-billion dollar investment. SolarCity, the solar panel installer of which Musk is founder and chairman, sealed the deal to build a massive factory in Buffalo at a long vacant Republic Steel plant. From construction to operation and supply chain, the solar panel plant is expected to add around 5,000 jobs to the greater Buffalo area and throughout New York.
The solar panel factory, called Riverbend, is the culmination of negotiations stemming back to last year. Musk’s deal is a major part of a massive plan to revive the city of Buffalo. SolarCity became involved when they bought out Silevo, the solar panel maker previously identified as the linchpin of the economic renewal plan.
Related: Elon Musk’s SolarCity buys solar panel maker Silevo, in talks to build one of the world’s largest solar panel plants
New York won’t be paying SolarCity directly for the plant. Instead, the state will pay for the $350 million factory and $400 million in equipment, and will maintain ownership rights in order to persuade SolarCity to remain in Buffalo after the 10-year deal expires. SolarCity is projected to invest upwards of $6 billion over the course of the deal, including operating costs and salaries.
The Buffalo solar panel plant is set to open in 2016 and will employ at least 1,900 people once it is operating at full capacity the following year. The deal is expected to create an additional 1,400 jobs in Buffalo with suppliers, and another 2,000 elsewhere in the state. The terms of the agreement will force the solar panel company to pay up if they don’t meet the target 5,000 jobs promised, to the tune of $42 million for each year the goal isn’t met.
Images via SolarCity