Strada Verde says installation in Spain most comparable
The Spanish facility manager says Strada Verde’s projections are high, but will bring jobs and tax revenue to San Benito County.
As Strada Verde Innovation Park representatives held local meetings around San Benito County to share the company’s plan for the 2,770-acre autonomous/electric vehicle testing facility, they continued to debunk the Hollister Mayor’s accusations, Ignacio Velazquez, that they were building a city. Instead, they insist the proposed test facility along Highway 25, between Highways 156 and 101, will be an economic boon to the county and the cities. When asked to cite concrete examples, Strada Verde team members compared its potential economic impact to those of two similar facilities: Ohio CRTlocated in East Liberty, Ohio, and Applus Idiadain Catalonia, Spain.
In order to find similar fully built projects, BenitoLink reached out to Jeremy Goddard, US Director of Client Management to Idiada Automotive Technology USA, LLC, a division of Applus+. Goddard told BenitoLink he is familiar with Strada Verde, having visited the area several times.
Scott Fuller, who has acted as a consultant for Strada Verde for the past two years says there is no commercial link between the two facilities at this time. But Goddard knows the site well and says they plan to help build and/or operate the facility.
Goddard said Idiada, located in the autonomous community of Catalonia halfway between the provinces of Barcelona and Tarragona, attracts employees from the surrounding region. He said the company provides four to five buses from the cities of Barcelona and Tarragona, which are around 40 miles in opposite directions. He said a minimum of 2,500 people work at the site every day; about 900 are Idiada employees. The rest are employed by companies that use the facilities and stay at local hotels and eat at local restaurants.
Goddard thought the 15,000 construction jobs projected for Strada Verde were too high. Fuller said Strada Verde hired DTA Consulting to analyze the project and came up with the figure. Fuller said more construction workers would be needed because Strada Verde is almost four times larger than Idiada and includes not only test tracks, but also warehouses, e-commerce facilities, workshops, an ancillary commercial district with hospitality and retail establishments, and public service facilities such as fire and police stations.
Goddard said the Spanish facility is made up of an oval track that runs throughout the property and is used to test vehicles and tires at continuous speeds of up to 130 mph. There are other smaller test tracks, including a large triangular track that Mercedes Benz has paid for to test its vehicles. Mercedes leases the track to other manufacturers when not in use.
“Idiada benefits local communities by utilizing approximately 100,000 hotel rooms per year,” he said. “The thing is, it’s a tourist area in the summer, but in the winter it’s a ghost town. Winter in southern Europe is the perfect time to test cars because northern Europe is snowy, so it’s high season for Idiada and it balances the local economy.
Goddard said the effects on the local economies of Strada Verde and Idiada are similar, especially during the construction phases. He said it would probably take at least 18 months to build Strada Verde. Over the next few years, he said there would likely be expansions involving warehouses and worker housing that would allow for more construction jobs. Likewise, he said, some small start-ups would likely establish their own engineering centers on the site, as they did in Idiada.
Goddard said the entire Idiada facility or campus is built on 390 hectares or 963.3 acres, or just 34% of Strada Verde’s 2,770 acres. A third of the area of Strada Verde (1,253.33) will be devoted to green spaces and agriculture. In comparison with Strada Verde being the subject of an environmental impact study, he said that the environmental laws in Europe in 1991, when Idiada was built, were not as restrictive as those in the United States. today.
While Strada Verde has the Pajaro River running through the property – which will be managed in cooperation with California Fish & Wildlife – Idiada has two streams and other environmental considerations, as well as a farm where the original owners of the land still live. , and a vineyard.
“Keeping a percentage of green areas, respecting historic constructions and also the areas around the two streams crossing the Idiada property has not been easy,” he said. “But, the major issue we are still facing right now is water. We use a pretty respectable amount of well water. year is more restrictive.At the moment, we are studying the reuse of water from the treatment plants of neighboring villages.
Amid a decades-long drought, water is also a major concern in San Benito County. Unlike slow-growing regional groups bent on stopping the project and removing development decisions from the oversight board, Goddard said the Catalan government and local people were 100% behind the Idiada project. He said it was because the area he is in was considered economically depressed.
The initial business model was to affiliate Idiada with the government to test vehicles seeking government certification before being sold in Europe, Goddard said. In the late 1990s, Idiada became a division of Applus, which now owns 75% of the company’s shares, while the rest is owned by the Catalan government.
Over the years engineering capabilities have been added. Today, he says, engineering accounts for about 55% of the company’s business. It is valued at $354 million. While many workers are bussed in from the two major cities, he said many chose to live in one of the many small villages surrounding the facility.
Goddard told BenitoLink in 2021 that the company paid $274,000 in corporate taxes and $325,600 in property taxes to four municipalities where it owns land.
“Another relevant source of tax revenue relates to the construction of the facilities – not only new construction, but also repaving, maintenance, etc. – which accrues locally to the municipalities,” he said. “It’s 3%-4% (depending on the municipalities) of the cost of the work.”
BenitoLink reached out to Spanish Chambers of Commerce for comment, but could not reach a nearby community for their perspective.
Strada Verde has announced that it will open a showroom at Hollister in what was previously the Rancher’s Feed property where exhibits and information will be available to the public. A video showing one of the test tracks was provided by Idiada video: Vehicle test in the loop.
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