The state's economic development chief, Howard Zemsky, said he sees signs that Tesla Inc.'s solar panel plant in RiverBend plant is moving toward production.
"They're obviously installing a lot of equipment," said Zemsky, president and CEO of Empire State Development, during a visit to Batavia on Tuesday. "They wouldn't be going through the exercise of holding job fairs for no good reason."
Of the three different owners the state has dealt with on the project – Silevo, followed by SolarCity and now Tesla – it is Tesla which has experience in manufacturing, he said.
"Tesla is producing automobiles, one of the most technologically sophisticated products in the world to produce, and is turning their attention now, with the acquisition of SolarCity, to roofs," Zemsky said.
Additionally, Tesla is partnering with Panasonic at the $950 million facility.
"We have right and reason to be optimistic about the prospects of this partnership between Tesla and Panasonic," he said. But Zemsky said from his own experience in business, "competition is difficult, the consumer is fickle, and there are no guarantees in this world in a competitive market. But we're extremely excited and extremely optimistic about the partnership they bring to the table."