Manufacturing is already a booming industry in Austin with a high demand for workers. The move of Tesla’s headquarters to the Texas capital could be a double-edged sword.
AUSTIN, Texas – With the relocation of Tesla’s headquarters to Austin, the Texas capital is making a name for itself nationally and internationally in the manufacturing industry.
“It’s a very positive move, in my opinion, for some sort of long-term success for Austin and the business environment,” said Andy Salo, CEO of East West Manufacturing.
Salo’s business is focused on electronics. He jokes with East West already doing business “with some of Elon Musk’s companies, I’ll leave it at that.” With Tesla’s headquarters moving to Austin, joining the gigafactory already underway, Salo and East West stand to benefit in the long run.
“I would say in the short term, you know, we’re going to be in a crisis just like we’ve been in the last few years, frankly. You know, there has been a talent shortage before, ”Salo said.
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Salo competes with many other manufacturing companies to hire workers, at least for some jobs. All the manufacturers are competing for some of these new hires.
“We have partnered with technical colleges, training programs and universities to attract students,” said Jeff Turk, CEO of Formaspace. “We’ve also partnered with teachers here locally who may not even know manufacturing really exists in Austin or what it really means.”
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Formaspace manufactures custom office furniture on a fairly large scale: from science lab desks to office tables. Turk added that his company has had to put in place different programs to attract more people. After an 18-month pandemic, Formaspace is finally returning to staffing levels they saw before. However, the company has grown since then, so it still lags behind staffing levels to meet current worker needs.
“We’re fighting for the same workforce, and so we get it. Tesla or Tesla recruiters call our employees every day,” Turk said.
Turk and Salo agree the pool of available workers will shrink even faster as Tesla gets closer and closer to completing construction on the gigafactory. With the head office moving to town, this will only further narrow the pool of applicants. However, they both hope that will mean more people come to Austin for manufacturing work.
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“There is already a huge manufacturing ecosystem here,” said Salo. “It’s the kind of thing that makes it really appealing for these types of businesses to want to relocate in a big way to Austin and the regional area.”
“In the long run it’s a huge win,” Turk said. “Ads like Tesla, which I think is a leading global company that’s at the cutting edge of technology and maybe leading us to a cleaner, more productive, maybe even safer society on the road, is a huge victory. In the short term, more people are going to be competing to grab the same few houses we have, and the same little water supply, and the same roads that we tend to clog twice per day and so on. So that poses challenges. “
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