Purchase of company coming to Buffalo could be boon for WNY

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Silevo, a company that had planned to set up shop at Buffalo’s Riverbend site, has been bought out by SolarCity, and the plan could mean thousands of jobs for Western New York.

Silevo is a solar panel technology and manufacturing company that had been planning on bringing around 500 jobs to Buffalo. Silevo had planned to invest $750 million to create a production facility at Riverbend, which is being built by the state to be a state-of-the-art campus to house high-tech and advanced manufacturing companies.

SolarCity, a $6 billion company, confirmed Tuesday it had purchased the smaller Silevo and is now in discussions with New York State to build an initial manufacturing plant at Riverbend. The project would create one of the single largest solar panel production plants in the world and could mean thousands of jobs for Western New York.

WNY Regional Economic Development Council member Harold Zemsky said, “We went from being partners with a private, small emerging technology company to being partners with a $6 billion company that’s one of the leading green energy companies in the world.”

Governor Andew Cuomo said, “Three years ago, few believed that we could bring the Buffalo economy roaring back to life. Today, a global leader in clean energy manufacturing announced potential plans to build one of the world’s largest solar panel production plants at Buffalo’s Riverbend site, where the abandoned Republic Steel Mill is being transformed by the Buffalo Billion.”

“With today’s news, it is truly a sunny day in Buffalo: the prospect of thousands of new solar energy jobs coming to the region, marking another landmark investment and economic game-changer taking place in the new Western New York.”

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors, is chairman of SolarCity, which is one of the nation’s largest installers of rooftop solar systems. The company also offers financing for solar systems, and last year it bought a manufacturer of mounting systems used to hold panels in place.

In a conference call, Musk told AP reporters the plant that could be built in Buffalo would “just a start.”

“If we don’t do this we felt there was a risk of not being able to have the solar panels we need to expand the business in the long term,” Musk said Tuesday. “We expect in the future to build solar panel plants that are in order of magnitude bigger than any plants that exist in the world today.”

Governor Cuomo announced the Riverbend project last November, saying, “This project marks a giant step forward in our Buffalo Billion strategy, transforming a once vacant property into a development ready site that will create good-paying permanent jobs, make Buffalo an international hub for innovation, and attract more businesses from around the world.”

Soraa, a manufacturer of green LED lighting, has also agreed to invest $750 million and relocate its corporate research and development and manufacturing operations to Riverbend, creating 375 jobs.

Zemsky said, “Buffalo is on the tongues and in the minds of every industry executive around the world, which is a priceless press for Buffalo. It’s an amazing opportunity.”

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