Published on August 11th, 2020 |
by Johnna Crider
August 11th, 2020 by Johnna Crider
In a new article by Statesman out of Austin, Texas, the writer muses over just how good an impact “The Tesla Effect” will have on the Del Valle area. Writers Phillip Jankowski and Shonda Novak take the canvas and paint a visual image of the area as it is now: an underdeveloped area that is in need of a grocery store. Chanel has a presence there and Zoho has plans to set up a headquarters somewhere in this area as well. However, the imagery that came to mine was rural America — vast, open spaces that span beyond where the sky meets the horizon. I have never been to the Austin area, but lived in Texas and that was my first impression of the state in general — it’s huge.
However sleepy this part of Texas may be, it’s about to wake up to a realm of possibilities that will impact the future in a positive way. When Tesla announced that Giga Austin would be its next Gigafactory, suddenly, all eyes were on Del Valle. Tesla, described in the article as “the worldwide darling of the electric automobile industry,” will invest at least $1 billion into Del Valle and create approximately 5,000 jobs.
Tesla has already made more headlines regarding its fast pace in building Giga 5. Torque News shared a video of construction teams moving heavy machinery to Giga Texas to prepare the ground. Randy D contacted Torque News with drone footage of Giga Texas that shows just how fast Tesla is moving — Tesla isn’t wasting any time.
Statesman noted that Tesla’s arrival will bring in jobs, retail, and even housing to an area that has historically lacked employment centers and fundamental services. There are no libraries or other nice community gathering places there. Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion told Statesman, “No libraries, no community centers, no public spaces for families to enjoy, and the primary park is behind barbed wire fences.”
Statesman also mentioned that this particular area has a community of mostly Black residents as well as a fair number of Latinos. The average median income within the Del Valle ISD is $20,000 less than all of Travis County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Tesla already has a plan to help more of the people in this community, though.
Tesla recently partnered with Huston–Tillotson University, which is a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). The university announced last month that Tesla will provide employment opportunities in the form of internships, apprenticeships, externships, and careers for HT students. “We anticipate our collaboration with Tesla to lead ultimately to internships, apprenticeships, externships, and fruitful careers for HT students. Tesla is an organization that aligns with and supports Huston-Tillotson University’s core values and mission,” the university said in a welcome letter.
By focusing on an area that is predominately underprivileged, and by teaming up with an HBCU to help students find careers that pay better jobs, and by making it clear that you don’t have to have a college degree to work for Tesla, Elon Musk and Tesla are doing their part to help communities that may not have the same privilege as others have when it comes to income equality.
Travillion is hopeful for the best, yet he still wonders if Tesla’s growth can help create a community while building wealth for Del Valle’s residents. “I hope we can build sustainability while we are building the economic infrastructure for that area. I’m optimistic. It can lead this community to a thriving future, but we cannot forget our most vulnerable populations,” he told Statesman.
Tesla’s growth in Del Valle is expected to be “exponentially faster” than the current growth in homes in the area. Dough Launius and his business partner, Karl Koebel, lead Austin’s Marketplace Real Estate Group. Launius noted, “What we believe is that Tesla and the ancillary companies that will follow them is like throwing gasoline on the fire. It’s already busy out here, but now with Tesla, the growth is going to be exponentially faster.”
One thing that Statesman noted is that if Tesla builds it, the houses will come. Avision Young, a commercial real estate firm that has offices in Austin, said that Tesla’s decision to pick Austin for its next Gigafactory will usher in “a new wave of interested investors and developers.”
In another CleanTechnica article, I analyzed how much of an impact Tesla could have on Texas regarding its automotive industry alone. However, when you bring a company that is known for revolutionizing everything it touches, it’s clear that by choosing Del Valle, Elon Musk’s plans make sure that the community where the new Gigafactory will call home will benefit as much as possible. This is truly The Tesla Effect.
I really believe that Texas will benefit from Austin, but I want to address the fact that Del Valle doesn’t even have a public library or decent public parks. When my mother worked full time, I spent my days in the library after school. It’s where I learned how to use the computer and daydreamed about being a published author someday. I have fond memories of holding my very own floppy disk filled with 3MB of badly written poetry and the head librarian helping me mail it off to the Library of Congress to get an actual copyright certification for my work.
Elon Musk, if you’re reading this, I have a very special request: please help Del Valle build a library. It doesn’t have to be a multi-million-dollar project, but something that would encourage the love of books and reading while being a safe place for students to explore their dreams.
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