Apple to touch down in Arizona, inks deal with GT

GT will supply Apple with sapphire products manufactured in Arizona

Technology trends and news by Faith Merino
November 5, 2013
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Apple is putting down roots in Arizona. The company inked a deal with GT Advanced Technologies to produce sapphire material at a plant in Arizona. Apple will be fronting the initial capital—$578 million—which GT will pay back between 2015 and 2020.

The news comes less than a week after Apple filed its 10-K and revealed that it had budgeted $11 billion for planned expenditures in 2014. That’s like, a lotta money, brah. In fact, Apple’s planned capital expenditures for 2014 is up 57% from the $7 billion it budgeted for 2013.

What is Apple planning on doing with all that money? Could it be getting serious about setting up shop in the U.S. following scathing criticism from human rights groups over the abuses of workers manufacturing Apple parts in China?

While $550 million of that $11 billion will be going toward Apple retail stores, the remaining money will be used for “product tooling and manufacturing process equipment, and corporate facilities and infrastructure, including information systems hardware, software and enhancements.”

Interestingly, GT says it won’t be making much money off the Apple deal. But the company says the “strategic nature of this agreement and the benefits associated with building a recurring revenue stream are important to its continued diversification.”

The deal will create 700 jobs in engineering and another 1,300 jobs in construction and manufacturing.

A number of electronics manufacturers are now using sapphire, which is a particularly resilient substance that creates scratch-resistant glass for screens and other parts. Apple is currently using sapphire for its iPhone camera lenses, as well as sapphire crystal for its new iPhone 5S fingerprint sensor.

Apple is rumored to have shelled out $100 million for the vacant plant in Mesa, Arizona. Believed to be the former unused factory of solar manufacturer First Solar, the facility will run on 100% renewable energy, including solar and geothermal power.

Arizona governor Jan Brewer—known for her love of business and her distaste for brown people—is thrilled.

“As Governor, I’ve worked hard to demonstrate that Arizona is open for business. Today’s news is proof that’s paying off,” Brewer said in a statement.

Apple is currently in the process of building its Austin, Texas campus, where it will build the latest version of the Mac Pro desktop computer. The company is shelling out $304 million for the campus and will employ 3,500 people. It’s said that the bottom 10% of employees will earn $35,000 a year and contractors will be paid a minimum of $11 an hour. 


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