“Arizona got snubbed by Apple Inc. in 2012 when the iPhone maker picked Texas to build a new operations hub. Scott Smith, the mayor of the Phoenix suburb of Mesa, was determined to keep history from repeating itself,” Adam Satariano reports for Bloomberg. “So last year, when Apple was searching for a place to house a factory that makes a stronger glass for its gadgets, Mesa pulled out the stops. The city, which was ravaged by the 2007 housing crash, offered tax breaks, built power lines, fast-tracked building permits and got the state to declare a vacant 1.3 million-square-foot facility that Apple was exploring a foreign trade zone. With unemployment high, such are the lengths that towns are willing to go to to lure the world’s most valuable company. ‘Any time you have a company like Apple come in and invest in your area, especially with this type of operation, it’s significant,’ said Smith, who triumphed late last year when Apple spent $114 million to buy the factory. The mayor celebrated by placing bowls of green and red apples in City Hall.”

“Yet even as Apple prepares to open the facility with 700 full-time jobs this month, along with another 1,300 temporary construction jobs, its arrival is no panacea for the region around Phoenix that refers to itself as Silicon Desert. According to Smith, the area lost about 300,000 jobs after the 2007 housing market crash, with only about half of those coming back,” Satariano reports. “‘The recovery is happening slowly,’ Smith, a Republican who is running for Arizona governor, said in an interview.”

“Apple’s Mesa facility is an example of the kind of manufacturing where the U.S. can be competitive. The factory, which Apple is operating with GT Advanced Technologies Inc., will focus on a material called synthetic sapphire, which is used to make watches and solar cells and strengthen iPhone screens,” Satariano reports. “The material requires furnaces to spark a reaction in which cylinders of sapphire grow over about a month, then can be sliced to less than a millimeter thick for use on gadget screens, said Eric Virey, an analyst with Yole Developpement, a research firm that studies the market. Apple’s Mesa plant will make an ‘unprecedented’ amount of synthetic sapphire, Virey said. ‘When it’s operating at full capacity, this plant is going to be producing as much as two times the current worldwide capacity,” he said. The factory will be able to make enough sapphire for 80 million to 100 million iPhones a year, he said.’”

“An Arizona state public-private group called Arizona Commerce Authority gave Apple a $10 million grant for building improvements and to help with job recruitment. Apple also won the ability from the state to designate the area around the factory a foreign trade zone, which lets it cut property taxes by more than 70 percent,” Satariano reports. “Apple and other companies typically get tax breaks in states where they add operations. Apple had received more than $135 million in incentives from state and local governments to build data centers in Nevada, Oregon and North Carolina, according to announcements of those projects. Texas gave the iPhone maker about $30 million in 2012 for the operations center it’s building there.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

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