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Despite layoffs, supporters see a bright future for SolarCity

WBFO File Photo

Despite SolarCity's corporate restructuring and layoffs, Mayor Byron Brown and other leaders say so far they see no negative impact on the company's new factory in Buffalo.

According to a SolarCity spokesperson, the company's revenues grew by 80 percent in the first quarter, a figure that fell short of expectations for the first half of the year. As a result, Solar City needed to adjust its costs. Details about the cuts were not released.

That sobering news has done little to dampen the enthusiasm for elected leaders.

"We're anticipating ribbon cuttings, and the jobs will be starting there soon," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

"Yes, there's a national story (regarding restructuring), but we're focused on what's going on here in Buffalo and it's a very positive story," said Hochul, adding that the state's investment is in the South Buffalo factory and not in the company itself.

Buffalo Mayor Brown mirrored those thoughts.

"We don't see any negative impact on what's happening with SolarCity in the city of Buffalo," said Brown who is  especially enthused about Elon Musk's involvement in the project. 

"He's one of the most well-known entrepreneurs on the planet. And I think that brings a lot of attention and that brings a lot of  fire power to that company," Brown said.

Critics have called the SolarCity a gamble of massive public resources. New York State has invested $750 million in the facility.

"Under any worse-case scenario. where it did not come to fruition, and we 100 percent expect it will, the state owns that.  So, that's still money that we could allocate to other purposes," Hochul said.

"But that's not going to happen. SolarCity is going to open here in Buffalo."