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Panasonic hiring for its Riverbend solar plant

It is going to be a few months before solar panels start coming out of the mammoth Riverbend complex in South Buffalo, but Panasonic is hiring.

"Our goal is to begin production within the next month or two, but our production timeline changes based on Tesla's needs," said Panasonic Talent Acquisition Manager Terry VanEpps.

Panasonic bought into the complex because of its experience making electronic black boxes, the modules that Tesla will use in the manufacture of solar panels. The giant Japanese company has already done some hiring and was in the Seneca Babcock Community Center Tuesday night for dozens of people to learn about the company.

Many thought it would be a job fair, but that is going to be July 26 at the Buffalo Employment and Training Center. Robert Williams is a roofer who wants to get back into production work and will be there. Williams said he is a geek, interested in solar roofing.

"Actually, they're pretty cool," Williams said. "I work on roofs, so I've seen a couple of them and the solar panels, not these solar panels in specific. Yeah, they're pretty cool. They power the houses and save people money and if I had enough money, I'd get one."

Also in attendance was Iris, who was interested in doing production work in the new plant. Panasonic is the type of company to work with for the long haul.

"It's something new. I never did it before. I think it's pretty exciting," she said. "You would want to be with the company that's going to be around for a while so you can move up. There's nothing wrong with that."

VanEpps said the company is looking for production workers, along with supply chain professionals and even more engineers.

"They just have to be adaptable to a clean room environment. We'll teach them all that stuff," he said. "It's the core skill set that we're looking for. They don't have to be used to a clean room environment. We can teach them that. What we're concerned about is that skill set."

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.
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