TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A year and a half after it opened its Austin gigafactory, Tesla officials outlined to Travis County Commissioners Court Tuesday some of its community programming efforts and education advancements for the region.
Giga Texas has invested more than $750,000 in programming through its community partners, including the Austin Area Urban League, Workforce Solutions Teacher Externships and Del Valle ISD. Some collaborations have included educational programs like Austin Voices for Education and Youth, Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day and Latinitas, per the presentation.
Tesla has also worked on community outreach opportunities through the Austin Independent School District’s resource fairs, the Del Valle Community Coalition and Workforce Solutions’ job fairs.
On the educational front, Tesla officials noted three key programs as part of Giga Texas’ educational and workforce development efforts:
- Manufacturing Development Program: An Austin Community College partnership program with 200 students enrolled in 2023, in collaboration with five area school districts. Come 2024, that number will increase to seven area school districts, per Giga Texas documents.
- Pathways to Technology: A partnership program with Del Valle ISD with 76 students enrolled. Through the program, Tesla helps sponsor a fifth year of tuition assistance “to ensure all students have equitable access to achieving their associate’s degree,” per company documents.
- START: An ACC partnership program that has 48 students enrolled as of 2023. The program included funding of more than $600,000 to renovate three classrooms at the ACC Riverside campus.
As of late 2022, Giga Texas was responsible for $5.8 billion in real and business property investment and had more than 12,000 employees, per documents. Both of those numbers have risen in the past year, officials added during Tuesday’s presentation to commissioners.
Documents also noted Tesla’s economic contributions in Travis County amounted to nearly $2.2 billion in 2022, alongside more than 15,000 jobs created.
On an ecological front, Giga Texas is working on a 120-acre pilot project to help restore and preserve ecological terrain near the gigafactory. The pilot program is centered on “restoring natural habitats in historically depleted mining site,” documents noted.
More than 5,000 new, native trees have been planted alongside more than 2,000 wetland plant species. Nearly 50 acres have been seeded, alongside 50 acres of invasive species removal in the region.
Crews have also restructured “depleted soil to bring [it] into healthy state to support plant restoration.” Officials added the pilot project is also working on roughly 30 acres of shallow water habitat creation to both improve stormwater quality and attract wildlife.
The pilot project has involved work from more than 200 employees, per Giga Texas documents. Officials added Tuesday that as cool weather continues to linger in the region, they’ll be able to advance efforts this fall through next spring.