AUSTIN, Texas — With a wide expanse of rooftop in place and pieces of heavy equipment rolling in, Tesla Inc.'s future $1.1 billion gigafactory in Travis County is starting to look more and more like a manufacturing facility.
And with CEO Elon Musk's timeline for the factory to produce vehicles by the end of this year, it's no surprise that Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) has ramped up hiring efforts over the last few months. It is just one of the many ways the electric carmaker is beginning to impact the Central Texas economy.
Note: The video above is from May 2010.
By publication time, more than 280 job openings in Austin were posted on Tesla's website, with positions available in a wide array of engineering and managerial capacities.
The company has said it plans to eventually employ about 5,000 people with an average annual salary of about $47,000. But that may be a low estimate: Manufacturing experts have said 15,000 jobs could be created at the gigafactory because of the scope of the carmaker's planned operations.
Tesla plans to produce its Model 3s, Model Y SUVs, Cybertrucks and Semi tractor-trailers in Central Texas. The factory will also host a battery cell manufacturing unit.
"We're adding on every day," Chris Reilly, Tesla's director of recruiting and workforce development, said about its job opportunities in Central Texas during a March 25 panel hosted by YTexas, a business network for companies relocating or expanding in the state.
Tesla's factory is pegged as a monumental gain for the region, especially with workers displaced because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Austin metro's unemployment rate was 5.6 percent in February, up from a seasonally adjusted rate of 3.5 percent a year prior.
The company has established relationships with Austin Community College, Huston-Tillotson University, the University of Texas and the Del Valle Independent School District, Reilly said. The car manufacturer is well known for not requiring college degrees for some of its jobs, but Reilly said part of the work they're doing with the local colleges is "thinking about recruiting students who can graduate high school and start a career at Tesla while continuing their education."
"Getting to build programs with these educational institutions, with the Texas Workforce Commission, has just been so exciting. It's really been a part of the thread of this work from site selection," he said. "We have opportunities for entry-level roles, for individuals that are coming from outside manufacturing ... that have that passion, have that drive and want to come make a difference."