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SolarCity executive to speak about Buffalo supply needs

A SolarCity supply chain executive will discuss the solar energy systems installer’s efforts to build a supplier network in the Buffalo Niagara region for the sprawling solar panel factory it is building in the RiverBend complex.

Vinayak Gupta, vice president of supply chain at SolarCity, will be in Buffalo on June 18 to present the keynote speech at the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s 2015 State of Logistics event.

Gupta will discuss SolarCity’s vision for the Buffalo factory and the efforts to build a supply chain for a factory that, when it reaches full production in early 2017, would be the biggest solar panel factory in North America, with a promised workforce of 1,460 employees.

Gupta is expected to discuss the importance of having a strong supply chain for the factory and how Western New York companies can become involved.

Gupta also will talk about the logistical challenges associated with ramping up production at the factory.

SolarCity has committed to bringing 1,440 jobs to the Buffalo Niagara region at businesses that supply and provide support services at the factory. SolarCity has been working with the Buffalo Niagara Partnership to help local businesses learn about potential opportunities at the factory as SolarCity builds its supplier network.

“SolarCity will have an enormous impact on our workforce and economy,” said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, president and CEO of the Partnership. “Connecting businesses to grow the local economy is what we do, and the opportunity presented by SolarCity is extraordinary in its scope.”

The plant will require a variety of materials to make 500,000 wafers and 10,000 solar panels per day, once the facility reaches full production. The company is seeking suppliers of things like equipment, chemicals and nonsilicone gasses. An estimated 200 to 250 trucks will stop at the plant each week, Partnership officials said.

The event will be held from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

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“It’s sort of the kick-off to the community about how they’re going to go about procuring local suppliers, and really all of their domestic suppliers,” Gallagher-Cohen said.

At the event, the Partnership will distribute “intake forms” on which local companies interested in becoming suppliers for the plant can outline their capabilities and qualifications.

The business group plans to compile that information into a database that SolarCity then can use to assess the potential for local companies to supply the plant, Gallagher-Cohen said.