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Tesla's new factory in Texas could be a lifeline for an area in dire need of development. Del Valle, an underdeveloped area in the southeast of Travis County, has had minimal commercial investment for decades.
The preparation of the territory is already progressing at a rapid pace. In the words of one developer, Tesla is “moving at the speed of Elon," as Musk's team bulldozes dirt to pave the way for the huge assembly plant.
Giga Texas will be located on 2,100 acres of land previously used for mine sand and gravel. The 4.5-million-square-foot factory will need a lot of workers. This should create 5,000 new jobs, 65% of which will involve unskilled labor that doesn’t require a college degree, Tesla executives have told local officials.
This is a very important point for the inhabitants of the region. The concentration of Latino and Black families in the area is above the county average. Household incomes lag behind incomes in areas with a large percentage of whites. Within the Del Valle Independent School District, the median income is $20,000 less than Travis County as a whole, according to the US Census Bureau.
Tesla's arrival is expected to accelerate development--bringing much-needed jobs, shopping opportunities and more housing--in an area that has historically lacked employment centers and basic services.
In addition to jobs, Giga Texas will have "a boardwalk where there'll be a hiking and biking trail. It's going to basically be an ecological paradise. Birds in the trees, butterfly, fish in the stream, and they will be open to the public as well. So not closed and only Tesla," said Tesla CEO Elon Musk during the 2Q 2020 Earnings Call.
Local developers and others predict that Giga Texas will dramatically accelerate the commercial and residential growth already underway in the Del Valle area, as well as in nearby estates and colonial parks, Statesman reported.
“What we believe is that Tesla and the ancillary companies that will follow them is like throwing gasoline on the fire,” said Doug Launius, who with business partner Karl Koebel leads Austin-based Marketplace Real Estate Group. “It’s already busy out here, but now with Tesla the growth is going to be exponentially faster.” This is exciting, indeed, but we do hope they at least choose a more sustainable energy than gasoline.
The Tesla Factory will also be a boon to the Del Valle school system, district officials say. The district, which schools roughly 11,000 students, could see an increase in its tax revenue.
Del Valle school board President Rebecca Birch said Tesla's arrival in the Del Valle area could open up opportunities for its students. Having a major employer nearby creates more potential for internship and mentorship programs.
“We’re excited about the opportunity and can’t wait to see what this means for our kids,” she said. "We made sure that we put students first, and we hope this means everything we dream it will."
Tesla will also give the school district an annual payment of just under $1 million under the agreement. And should the district suffer any financial hardships related to the plant, Tesla has agreed to make up the difference.