BUFFALO, N.Y. - A representative for Panasonic confirmed Tuesday that the company has already started hiring for positions at the massive South Buffalo solar manufacturing factory, where production is expected to begin at some point this summer.
Panasonic, which lists a variety of open positions in the Buffalo area on its website, will hire up to 300 people for the Riverbend site by the end of the year, according to Talent Acquisition Manager Terry Van Epps. The Japan-based company is a smaller but important part of Tesla's plan to create 1,460 direct jobs and 2,900 overall jobs (including supporting and secondary roles). Panasonic will offer its specific expertise in making solar cells and modules, which Tesla will then use to sell solar panels across the globe.
The entire facility was originally supposed to open last year, but now it appears production will begin within the next few months.
Van Epps said he's confident both Panasonic and Tesla will begin manufacturing their products this summer.
"I can't speak to if other delays come up or whatever, I'm not privy to that information. But from the activity I've seen so far, I have a lot of confidence in that," Van Epps said.
On Tuesday night, Van Epps led an informational session for Panasonic at the Seneca Babcock Community Center on Seneca Street in Buffalo. Close to 100 people attended the brief event, which lasted fewer than 45 minutes.
Jerry Dmytrasz, an Orchard Park resident, said he came to the session because he's currently in between jobs. With his IT background, he's looking for more of an administrative or office role with Panasonic or Tesla.
"These are two reputable companies," Dmytrasz said. "I'm kinda looking for a stopgap job-- a bridge job."
Van Epps told the crowd on Tuesday that entry-level jobs will offer $14 an hour to start, but many other positions may include more lucrative salaries. According to the company's website, Panasonic is seeking engineers, supply chain buyers, sales managers, machine operators and other production jobs. The company's hiring process has so far focused on the engineering positions, but this week, it has zeroed in on supervisors, team leaders and machine operators.
Van Epps said production is the next target for hiring.
"We want to make sure we get the right people," Van Epps said. "But I think it's a huge boom for the Buffalo economy. We've been waiting for this for a while."
Each positions have their own requirements, but all of the jobs offered by Panasonic require at least a GED or high school diploma. Some of the jobs, like engineering, may require a bachelor's degree at minimum.
Panasonic will hold another informational session on July 18 at ECC North. On July 26, the company will hold an actual "hiring event" at the Buffalo Employment and Training Center.