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Panasonic job fair attracts nearly 1,000 applicants for 300 Riverbend jobs

There were 800 people registered for the Panasonic job fare Wednesday evening at the Buffalo Employment and Training Center - and more than that came to fill out forms and present resumes - as the company plans 150 hires by the end of August.

The line of people filled the building lobby and then spilled out onto a sidewalk along Ellicott Street. Panasonic has said it will contact those it's interested in very quickly.

The company is setting up inside the Riverbend complex in South Buffalo, where workers are needed to build the computer control modules for the solar panels to be built by Tesla. Panasonic Eco Solutions Solar New York President Mark Shima said the company will start manufacturing the modules in October, suggesting the solar panels will need them around the same time.

Andrew was a logistics expert looking for a logistics position.

"I hope it gets off the ground," he said. "I know Musk bought it, Elon Musk bought it out. He's been pretty successful. I love the Tesla cars, that much I know for sure. I'm all for solar. If I could have afforded solar panels on my house, I would have bought them when I had my roof re-done, but I couldn't afford it."

Noelia Rodriguez was there looking for a manufacturing job.

"I used to work in manufacturing and I was working in assembly," Rodriguez said. "I was training new people. I was working in welding machines."

City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the overall plant is nearing completion.

"We think that things are moving," Brown said. "We have not heard any concerns about the process of building out of the plant. It is a large undertaking. A lot of things go into that but clearly there is no delay with Panasonic's hiring. Panasonic is hiring 300 individuals."

The 300 figure cited by Brown includes the 150 the company wants to hire by the end of August and another 150 to be hired in the first quarter of next year. All the jobs are separate from Tesla hiring for the manufacture of the actual solar panels.

The emphasis has been on high-tech manufacturing workers because of the nature of the modules and because most workers will be working in clean rooms, wearing 'bunny suits' for the high-tech manufacturing environment.

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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