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SolarCity criticized for lackluster jobs outreach

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Solar Liberty
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State taxpayers may be putting $750 million into the SolarCity plant in South Buffalo, but Buffalo Common Councilmembers say the company is not trying very hard to hire city residents, especially city residents living around the plant.

The company has committed to a lot of jobs in the plant, in solar panel installation and suppliers. There have been few hires so far because the production equipment is still being installed.

The jobs posted on what is described as an awful website are for high-tech positions. None are for lower-skilled workers - at least not yet.

Councilmembers complained Tuesday that there were more meetings to explain job openings in the suburbs than in the city. Lovejoy District Councilmember Richard Fontana said he wants a meeting in his community.

"Lovejoy is not South Buffalo. It's further away. So we'd like to have a meeting in the Lovejoy District that we could tout, that could be branded through our office so people know it's real," he said. "And then they can understand the severity of it because this is really where the jobs have to meet up with the residents of the City of Buffalo."

University District Councilmember Rasheed Wyatt said he is going to force the company to look at city applicants.
 

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Credit SolarCity Careers
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"These jobs are the Chevy and the Ford jobs of our time. If we're going to lift up these boats, folks need these jobs and it's very urgent for us to make sure that they have been patient for all this time," he said. "They've been going through the ups and downs of the issues of SolarCity. Now it's time for the rubber to hit the road. There are jobs that's going to be available beginning early 2017 and we don't want a single resident that has the ability to get a job to miss out on this opportunity."

South Buffalo Councilmember Chris Scanlon wrote a scathing letter to Solar City complaining about the company's treatment of his district, where the RiverBend plant is located.

"This company received $750 million to locate here and, it's been my experience at every turn, whether it be with HR people I've met with or other people, they're treating us as thought we should be thankful that they came here, when, in my opinion, it's the other way around," he said. "We did them the favor. They didn't do us the favor. We did them the favor. We gave them $750 million to come here."

WBFO reached out to SolarCity Tuesday for comment, but did not hear back.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.