updated 10:54 pm EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
Talked Beats acquisition, Ahrendts hiring, 'exciting' new products
Although only the first two buildings in the first phase of the project has been fully operational for about a month, Apple's Austin, Texas-based Americas Operations Center held its grand opening today with special guests: Apple CEO Tim Cook, and senior VP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue. The pair spoke to workers about the recent Beats acquisition and the hiring of Dame Angela Ahrendts as retail chief, and also teased "exciting" new products in the pipeline.
The first phase of Apple's Austin campus
In addition to administrative staff for North, Central and South American logistical operations, the Austin facility will also house support staff for a call center and engineers working on Apple's processors. Later phases of the project may provide a new home to Apple's US production of the Mac Pro, which is already based in Austin facilities.
The whole first phase -- which is comprised of at least two more buildings and two parking garages -- is expected to be finished sometime in 2015. That phase alone will double the present Austin Apple workforce, with a much larger facility expected to be completed in 2021, ultimately adding 3,700 new, high-paying tech jobs to the Austin area. The new structures are directly across from the existing Austin campus.
Alongside Cue, Cook spoke at a Beer Bash on the campus and recapped much of what was talked about at the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday. According to one eyewitness report, he answered a question about Ahrendts by explaining why she was "the best person for the job" as head of both the online and retail Apple Stores.
Cook arrives at Austin campus
Overall, the company plans to spend a total of $304 million during the next eight years, with $56.5 million spent on the first phase of expansion. The second phase will cost $226 million, and provide a total of more than a million square feet of facility space. In addition to the first two buildings, much of the infrastructure of the campus expansion is in place, including roadways, a central plaza, and mark-outs for future parking facilities and other components.
Under a plan worked out with local and state authorities, salaries for jobs will average $35,000 per year for the bottom 10 percent of workers (such as custodial and maintenance staff) and a minimum $11 per hour for contractors. The campus is expected to generate around $15 million annually in benefits to the local area for at least the next 15 years. The company won a number of local and state tax concessions in the deal to update the facilities in Texas, but the economic impact on the area is expected to be far greater.
Apple is separately building itself a new "Campus 2" headquarters in Cupertino to address its prodigious growth over the last decade, and expanding other facilities such as operations centers in Ireland and research centers in Israel.