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City confirms Apple coming to Mesa, to create 2,000 jobs

Apple Inc. is constructing a manufacturing facility in east Mesa that will generate 2,000 jobs, Mesa Mayor Scott Smithsaid Nov. 4. Apple is based out of Cupertino, Calif.

A total of 700 will work at the facility and the remaining 1,300 will be needed to build it, Mayor Smith said in a live video feed on TV at the Nov. 4 Mesa City Council meeting.

Mesa City Councilman Scott Somers said the facility will be constructed at Signal Butte and Elliot roads.

“We are very much excited about that, for a few reasons. It was a great team effort,” Mayor Smith said. He lauded the assistance of the Arizona Governor’s Office, Arizona Commerce Authority, Maricopa County, Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Salt River Project and city of Mesa staff members for working with Apple.

On the southwest corner of Signal Butte and Elliot roads is the First Solar building, which was constructed in 2011.

On Oct. 3, First Solar entered into an agreement to sell the Mesa facility including the land, a 1.3 million-square-foot building and certain fixtures and improvements, according to a Nov. 1 quarterly report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The improvements are described as including a 3.3 megawatts rooftop photovoltaic array and a ground-mounted photovoltaic test array.

The sale will generate $115 million for First Solar, according to the filing.

The document does not list a buyer.

The news that Apple was coming to Mesa was first announced by GT Advanced Technologies in a public filing on its third-quarter fiscal year 2013 results. The business reported signing a multi-year agreement with Apple to provide sapphire materials.

“GT will own and operate ASF (advanced sapphire furnace) furnaces and related equipment to produce the material at an Apple facility in Arizona where GT expects to employ over 700 people. Apple will provide GT with a prepayment of approximately $578 million. GT will reimburse Apple for the prepayment over five years, starting in 2015,” according to the GT filing.

The GT website describes an advanced sapphire furnace as a “platform for producing high-quality, large-area sapphire substrates for markets that demand the highest grade sapphire material such as high brightness LEDs and other specialty industrial markets.”

“We are very excited about this agreement with Apple as it represents a significant milestone in GT’s long term diversification strategy,” Tom Gutierrez, GT’s president and chief executive officer, said in the filing. “We believe that it is in the long-term best interests of our company, employees and shareholders to build a robust sapphire materials business with recurring revenues,” Mr. Gutierrez said.

Infrastructure, such as roads, water lines and sewer, are in place at the site, Councilman Somers said.

“We invested in the area and that investment, which was made awhile ago, is the one that created the opportunity,” Mayor Smith said. “But at the end of the day you have to deliver, you have to make whatever company it is – in this case, Apple – you have to make it so they can actually open whatever plant it is and make whatever they are going to make there and make it work. And that’s where city staff comes in,” the mayor said.

“Congratulations to our city, to everyone,” he said. “This is just a start though. We’re happy to have a company like Apple who chooses to invest in our city. We’re hoping that we’ll live up to the expectations. Apple said they expect upwards of 700 jobs; these are high-quality jobs. There will be almost 1,300 employed during construction, so this is a very, very massive project and we’re happy that Apple has chosen Mesa for this. This is a big win for the state, for the region and certainly for Mesa and our citizens.”

Councilman Somers thanked the citizens of Mesa for voting on and approving bond packages in the past that paid for infrastructure in the area where Apple will be construction its facility.

“It’s those kind of investments in your community that are necessary to attract these kind of jobs, so I want to thank you for your continued support and your faith in this council and city staff in supporting those efforts that helped make this possible,” Councilman Somers said at the Nov. 4 meeting.

Apple is working with SRP to eventually use 100 percent renewable energy, according to a Mesa press release.

"Apple's presence in the region will be a game-changer for the greater Phoenix area, its innovation landscape and future ability to attract other high-tech companies," Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, said in a press release about Apple’s new manufacturing facility in Mesa. "Between their plans to hire 700 direct employees and run completely on renewable energy, I'm convinced Apple could not have chosen a better location than Mesa and Eastmark. This deal is the result of the cooperation and support of several parties, including Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Chucri, city of Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, DMB Associates, the ACA and SRP, whose infrastructure will enable more projects to move forward in the surrounding area," he said.

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