updated 12:47 pm EST, Mon February 10, 2014
New solar and geothermal power projects underway
Both the city of Mesa and the state of Arizona acted aggressively to lure Apple and GT Advanced Technologies into building their sapphire plant in the Mesa area, according to a new Bloomberg report. The publication notes that since Arizona lost out on an Apple operations center that ended up in Austin, Texas, local government was eager to make concessions in order to attract the company's jobs and business. Apple is said to have received a $10 million grant from the state to support hiring and building improvements, as well a special designation for its land, slashing the company's property taxes by over 70 percent.
Apple was also demanding that, like its other facilities, the new one rely entirely on renewable energy. To that end it negotiated with the state and a local power company, Salt River Project, about possible answers. The result is that new solar and geothermal power facilities are under construction, along with a new substation.
Mesa and the state are also exploiting Apple's presence to attract more companies and hopefully create a new high-tech corridor. Several businesses are said to have already contacted government officials about locating near Apple.
When the sapphire plant launches this month, it's expected to bring some 700 full-time jobs, plus another 1,300 temporary construction positions. The area in which Mesa is situated -- sometimes called the Silicon Desert -- was hard-hit after the housing market crash in 2007, suffering some 300,000 job losses. Since then, only about half that number has returned.