The Arizona Republic: 'Apple makes a real commitment to Arizona'
By: Editorial Board
For months following the mysterious break-up of Apple Corp. and GT Advanced Technologies, speculation has been rampant about what Apple would do with its enormous, manufacturing facility in east Mesa.
The firm's investment was huge. It spent $113 million to buy the facility, originally built to manufacture solar-industry components. It put up at least $439 million, as of last August, to transform it into a 1.3-million-square-foot facility for manufacturing scratch-resistant glass for Apple's computer products.
Then, last fall, came the corporate break-up, followed immediately with passionate assurances from Apple that its expensive property would play a vital role in the company's future.
The company just didn't know exactly what that role would be. Or when the facility's re-emergence would happen. But signals from Apple had been consistently positive. As recently as last week, Mesa Mayor John Giles told The Arizona Republic editorial board that Apple had assured him on multiple occasions that, yes, the plant most definitely figured into its plans.
"They have to figure out if it is a manufacturing facility or something else," Giles said.
At last, we know. It will be something else. A $2 billion something-else.
In what the company described as "one of the largest investments we've ever made," Apple announced plans Monday to reconfigure the facility as its "global command center" -- the new technology headquarters for its vast array of global networks.
As announced Monday by Gov. Doug Ducey's office, the new Apple facility will add 150 full-time Apple jobs, mostly in engineering, and several hundred construction jobs.
In addition, the company plans to power the facility with 100 percent renewable energy. To accomplish that, it plans to construct solar arrays capable of powering 14,000 houses.
The announcement constitutes a big win for the new governor, who made economic development a major part of his election campaign last fall.
Ducey maintained that emphasis throughout the weekend, taking full advantage of the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the Super Bowl to promote Arizona to visiting CEOs.
The Apple announcement may not result in the hundreds of high-paying jobs the glass-production plant promised, but a $2 billion commitment to Arizona is, nonetheless, a huge statement.
All those CEOs in town for the Super Bowl will notice. It is an affirmation, a $2 billion affirmation, that Arizona is a good place to do business. Apple doesn't spend that kind of a money on a long-shot gamble.
And perhaps one specific industry will notice. The Valley, lacking blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes or earthquakes, is a natural location for data centers.
Apple had been adamant that its commitment to Arizona was real, even if it seemed uncertain for a time.
It is good to see a corporate partner keep its vows, especially when that corporation happens to be one of the biggest and most profitable companies in the world.
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