Travis County Commissioners approved a permit this week for Tesla to host a 15,000-person grand opening next month at the company’s new Gigafactory in Austin, Texas.
The party is set for April 7 from 4:00 p.m. to midnight at the new manufacturing facility about 5 miles east of downtown Austin on Harold Green Road.
Travis County Fire Marshal Tony Callaway said Tuesday that the permit for the fireworks show is “conditional,” depending on the weather at the time, which can be erratic in central Texas in April.
“Let’s cancel the firework show if we need to,” Commissioner Ann Howard told Callaway, noting that some residents who live nearby have voiced concerns about the fireworks show. “More power to you and your decision, and we’ve got your back if you need to pull the plug at the last minute.”
Tesla moved their corporate headquarters from Palo Alto, California, to Austin late last year. CEO Elon Musk also moved his personal residence to Texas.
The $1.1 billion, 4.3-million square foot facility has already started producing the Model Y, Tesla said in its fourth-quarter earnings report earlier this year.
Commissioner Brigid Shea touted Tesla’s move to Texas on Tuesday and rejected criticisms about the $65 million in tax rebates that the company will get from Travis County.
“They are targeting for the majority of their 5,000-plus jobs the people in Austin who have less than a college degree, and that’s more than 50% of our population,” Shea said Tuesday.
“Those are the people who are stuck in dead-end jobs, who don’t have health insurance, who don’t get retirement, who don’t really have a ladder out of poverty. And I think this is a genuine opportunity and an important one for our community that will provide many, many benefits.”
Not everyone is welcoming Tesla with open arms in Austin though. Paul DiFiore, an Austin resident and representative of the environmental group PODER, said Tesla hasn’t done enough to engage with the community during the move.
“I urge you to consider rejecting this permit and forcing Tesla to delay their celebration until they start treating the community of Eastern Travis County as more than a workforce for Elon Musk, but rather as neighbors and partners,” he said.