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April 29, 2014 > Editorial: Counting chickens

Editorial: Counting chickens

The old adage, ÒDonÕt count your chickens before they hatchÓ may be a cautionary tale for Fremont. With all the excitement about Tesla manufacturing at the former NUMMI plant, new information is surfacing that may dilute the future impact of this automotive wunderkind. According to several press reports, Tesla recently leased a large manufacturing facility in Lathrop (near Stockton, in the Central Valley) and is beginning to hire computer-assisted machining technicians for that location.

This is not to say that the Fremont plant will be abandoned, but it does underscore often unspoken strategies of fast-growing companies. What appears to be a smooth and solid path of growth in a particular geographic location can be an illusion. While administrative facilities of corporate giants survive in high rent districts, manufacturing is another matter. Tesla is typically referred to as ÒPalo Alto-based,Ó with little mention of Fremont. The addition of a sales showroom at the Fremont plant is welcome and may add revenue from sales, but future expansion and identification with Fremont is a rose yet to be picked. Although the automobile manufacturer occupies a large local facility with room for substantial growth, economic incentives and high employee living costs are significant factors. Is the Lathrop facility a bellwether?

From other media reports, Tesla may also plan to build manufacturing plants in China. FremontÕs dream of becoming the Tesla center of the universe may not be in the works but possibly this company will become so large that a small piece of the pie will nonetheless remain as a big boost to our local economy. In any case, as the Warm Springs area develops, it is important to include Tesla and its corporate neighbors as vital partners in any development discussions.

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