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Tesla Says It’s Meeting Jobs Benchmarks at Nevada Factory

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Electric car maker Tesla Motor Co. insisted Thursday it is meeting revised hiring goals at a giant northern Nevada battery manufacturing plant for which it has been promised $1.3 billion in state tax incentives.

In a statement disputing reports that it is behind in hiring, the Palo Alto, California-based company said construction started late, and state officials have said they’re satisfied Tesla is meeting investment and job-creation benchmarks.

“We are on schedule with our production, hiring and investment numbers,” the statement said.

Concern about hiring came after the company this week received from the state $8 million in transferable tax credits, soon after an audit reported that just 331 jobs had been created at the Tesla industrial park along U.S. Interstate 80 east of Sparks.

Tesla projected in reports to state lawmakers who approved tax incentives in September 2014 that employment would reach 1,700 before January 2017.

The company statement said the audit was conducted almost six months ago, and the plant today employs more than 850 full time employees plus more than 1,700 construction workers.

It said that because construction didn’t begin “until almost 2015,” expectations should have been changed.

“Tesla expects to hire more than 1,000 additional full-time employees at the Gigafactory in the first half of 2017,” the company said.

A spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Tesla was “hitting the thresholds as we’ve defined them and that’s what’s important.”

The office didn’t immediately respond Thursday to messages from The Associated Press.

The Nevada state employment office is planning a Saturday job fair in Las Vegas with Panasonic Energy Corp. of North America to recruit employees willing to move to northern Nevada. Panasonic is a partner in the battery factory with Tesla.

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