Closing the Solyndra Chapter
Last week’s news that Tesla has leased the last available former Solyndra facility marks the end of a difficult chapter in Fremont’s history. At the same time, it underscores the City’s more recent storyline as Silicon Valley’s manufacturing hub and as a critical player in the region’s next technological revolution — the Internet of Things.
The closure of NUMMI and Solyndra led to the loss of 5,600 direct jobs and thousands more across the supply chain throughout California. What’s more, Solyndra’s collapse was symptomatic of a much broader slump in clean technology, one of Fremont’s most important industry clusters. While it would have been easy to abandon a clean tech strategy or allow the trauma of a large-scale manufacturing loss to cloud our focus, neither happened. Instead, this City became fiercely determined to play to its strengths, based on its legacy industrial past, and positioned itself as a leading location for advanced industries.
A risky move? Maybe. But here’s an example where playing the odds paid off. Fast forward to today, and Tesla’s most recent deal is just another in a string of activity that has solidified Fremont’s strength in the region with all of the former Solyndra facilities now transitioned to Silicon Valley industry icons, including Seagate Technologies, SolarCity, and now, Tesla.
Yes, we’ve closed one chapter. And the best is yet to come — we are more encouraged than ever by what’s in store. With investors setting their sights on Fremont’s Warm Springs Innovation District, where the new BART station will open at the end of this year, the area is poised to become a cutting-edge, national example of how diverse users, including manufacturers, mix and mingle, resulting in a brand new typology of innovation.