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From China to the Desert: Apple Goes Stateside

TMCnet Feature

November 06, 2013

From China to the Desert: Apple Goes Stateside

By Drew Hendricks

The trend of outsourcing overseas has slowly been dying when it comes to tech giants, but Apple (News - Alert) is making a grand gesture by announcing that it will be opening the new glass plant right in Arizona. The best part is that it promises at least 2,000 jobs to be created. When making the move from Silicon Valley to the sprawling desert, Apple hopes to kick start the movement towards expanding beyond the tech-ridden walls that have kept most of the technology industry well within a niche region.


Based in Mesa, Arizona, GT Advanced Technologies is charged with creating the “crystal growth equipment” for the majority of LED, solar and electronics companies worldwide. When Apple tapped GT to create the sapphire materials necessary for the new plant, that’s when news of Apple’s move began to spread like wildfire. Sapphire is used in all iPhone (News - Alert) cameras as well as the sensor for the Touch ID, so Apple is doubling up those made at home efforts. Not only will Apple itself be manufacturing glass in Arizona, but some of the most popular products will also utilize materials manufactured here and Apple is building an intricate relationship with another American company.


A sweet deal


As part of the Apple-GT deal, $580 million has already been exchanged, with GT slowly paying Apple back over a five year period beginning in 2015. This payment ensures that GT can retain a certain level of manufacturing capacity. At the same time, the impact on the economy will also be strongly felt. Of the 2,000 new jobs, 700 will be permanent and about 1,300 will be construction based. The green plant will operate 100 percent on renewable energy starting on opening day.


An Apple spokesperson noted that they are “proud to expand our domestic manufacturing initiative with a new facility in Arizona, creating more than 2,000 jobs in engineering, manufacturing and construction.” As for Arizona? There has been nothing but good words coming from government agencies that are looking forward to a little economical boost from the giant becoming their new neighbor. Governor Jan Brewer said, “Apple is indisputably one of the world’s most innovative companies and I’m thrilled to welcome them to Arizona; Apple will have an incredibly positive economic impact for Arizona and its decision to locate here speaks volumes about the friendly, pro-business climate we have been creating these past four years.”


The green welcome wagon


The fact that Apple is going wholly green might be one of the other big reasons Arizona officials are so eager to see the company arrive. “Their investment in renewable energy will also be greening our power grid, and creating significant new solar and geothermal power sources for the state. As Governor, I’ve worked hard to demonstrate that Arizona is open for business,” Governor Brewer notes.


So far, the input from the anonymous online community (for what it’s worth) has been a little mixed. Just like anything else from options for online entertainment to putting in those new bike lanes, the locals are going to find pros and cons to just about everything. The “not in my backyard” mindset is in full swing for some, others are simply commenting that it’s a pretty expensive endeavor “just for scratch-resistant glass.” Others are quietly considering the possibility of snagging one of those new jobs. However, no matter where a Mesa resident falls on the spectrum, the fact is that Apple has chosen to invest in a company and a move that’s located in the heart of a country—making big strides out of China and setting a precedent for other tech industry leaders to follow in their footsteps.


Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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