CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Electric car manufacturer Tesla Motor Co. hasn’t hired as many workers for a giant northern Nevada manufacturing plant as it told state lawmakers it expected it would have by the end of this year, according to a consultant’s tally.
A Tesla spokeswoman on Wednesday disputed as outdated the results of an audit by Grant Thornton that said 331 jobs had materialized at the Tesla industrial park along U.S. Interstate 80 east of Sparks.
However, company spokeswoman Alexis Georgeson didn’t provide additional information.
An analysis presented in September 2014 to state lawmakers before they approved a $1.3 billion tax inventive to lure Tesla to Nevada projected employment would reach 1,700 at the plant before January 2017.
Jennifer Cooper, spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal the new employment report, released Monday, “is not concerning to us at all.”
“They’re hitting the thresholds as we’ve defined them and that’s what’s important,” Cooper said the day after the state issued Tesla another $8 million in transferrable tax credits for meeting investment and hiring benchmarks.
The Grant Thornton audit said employment requirements for permanent employees and temporary construction workers had been met “without exception.”
Cooper attributed the lower employment numbers to a change in Tesla’s construction plans to allow for operations to begin while the plant is being built.
The report comes with the Nevada state employment office planning a Saturday job fair in Las Vegas with Panasonic Energy Corp. of North America to recruit employees willing to move to northern Nevada. Panasonic is a partner in the battery factory with Tesla.
Gov. Brian Sandoval’s economic development chief, Steve Hill, signed the certificate on Monday that includes tax credits totaling nearly $6 million earned during the April-June 2016 period, plus $2 million in credits earned during the previous quarter.
The certificate said the credits are to be applied toward gambling licensing fees, indicating they will be sold to a casino company.
Tesla is required to declare how the tax credit will be used. In July, the company sold $20 million in tax credits to Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International. To date, the battery factory project has qualified for $34.5 million in credits, the new report said.
Legislation entitles Tesla to receive $195 million in transferrable tax credits that it can sell to other businesses as it meets specified performance levels.
Tax credits are available in the amount of $12,500 for each qualified employee hired. At least 50 percent of employees must be Nevada residents, and the average minimum wage must meet $22 per hour.