1000 jobs expected from new battery plant

TUCSON, Ariz (KGUN) — Pima County’s scored a big new employer ready to create plenty of jobs—and maybe attract other companies that will work with the product it builds.

Cities and counties compete to attract large new employers ready to offer jobs with strong pay–and Pima County’s reeled in a big one—a factory that expects to build up to a thousand jobs and a three-billion dollar impact.

American Battery Factory works to make sure no one runs out of electricity. The company builds sophisticated batteries that store electricity for solar systems and large power grids.

Now Pima County’s worked out a deal to lease land the county owns to a battery factory just south of Tucson International and Raytheon.

Company CEO Paul Charles says other areas offered better deals but Pima County is the better fit.

“Other states actually offered us more money, more incentives, free dirt, incredibly inexpensive power because we draw a lot of power. There’s no doubt about that. And other things, but at the end of the day, we view this as a generational opportunity for our company but also as we hopefully become adopted into this family here that we can make an impact at every level of the citizenry here.”

That impact could be 300 jobs by late next year and up to a 1,000 jobs over a 10-year build out.

Charles says the company will work with local training programs to develop skilled workers. Many will control the robots that do the physical work.

That’s good news for programs like JTED which offer training in skills like robotics.

Supervisor Adelita Grijalva was concerned the factory could use too much scarce water and create pollution, especially in the district she represents.

“Is that our groundwater? Is that reclaimed water and then when you have this wastewater, what’s in it and where is that wastewater going to go? Because in the area that you know, we’re talking about, specifically, in District Five, we’ve had super fund sites and cleanup sites, we’ve had really TCE plumes and this, the community that keeps getting hit is right around this area. 10:11 runs:25

Charles says the plant will use modest amounts of water for a factory so large and that the only water leaving the site will be the sort of ordinary wastewater any building would release to a sewer system.

The county is still fighting lawsuits over a lease incentive it granted WorldView. That company makes and launches high altitude balloons and is working on a space tourism product. The Goldwater Institute sued, saying the Worldview deal was so generous it amounted to an illegal gift. Supervisor Christy only voted for the battery plant incentives after being assured that deal should not lead to a lawsuit.

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