Nevada says Tesla Gigafactory is meeting its hiring and investment thresholds

An independent audit by Grant Thornton for the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development confirms that Tesla is on track to meet all applicable targets established by the state when it agreed to a $1.3 billion package of tax incentives to secure the Tesla Gigafactory.

The audit found that Tesla employed 283 employees at the Gigafactory since the project began in 2014. 89 percent are Nevada residents and earn an average wage of $53.18 per hour. Panasonic, Tesla’s primary partner in the Gigafactory, has 48 employees on site of which 92 percent are Nevada residents earning an average wage of $54.89 per hour.

There were 540 construction workers at the site during the period between April to June, with 63 percent being Nevada residents, the report said. The audit also found the requirements for both permanent employees and temporary construction workers at the Gigafactory were met “without exception.”

Contemporaneous with the release of the audit, GOED Executive Director Steve Hill issued Tesla $8 million in transferable tax credits for meeting investment and hiring benchmarks. The total includes $6 million in tax credits earned during the April-June 2016 period plus $2 million in credits earned during the previous quarter.

The Las Vegas Review Journal on Wednesday cast the auditor’s report as a concerning, claiming that the state legislature was led to believe that Tesla would have 1,700 employees working at the Gigafactory by the end of this year, but fell far short. But Jennifer Cooper, spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, attributed the lower employment numbers to a change in Tesla’s construction plans.

“They decided to do a more phased-build approach,” Cooper said Tuesday. “They wanted it to be operational at the same time they were building it.” Cooper said the lower number “is not concerning to us at all. They’re hitting the thresholds as we’ve defined them and that’s what’s important.” It is useful to keep in mind that Tesla must meet those thresholds to trigger additional incentives. To date, the battery factory project has qualified for $34.5 million in credits the Grant Thornton report said.

Tesla is continuing to hire workers for the Gigafactory. On December 10, Nevada JobConnect, in partnership with Panasonic, is hosting a job fair in Las Vegas to recruit employees willing to move to Northern Nevada to work at the battery factory.

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