By Eric Jay Toll for Arizona Builder’s Exchange
It’s what happens when it all comes together: Patience, a good site, excellent workforce, community vision and long-range planning. Arizona won the new Apple manufacturing facility. The company is the mystery buyer of First Solar’s 1MSF Gateway-area building.
Arizona Commerce Authority CEO Sandra Watson says Apple’s move is a defining moment for the state, “Apple’s confidence in Arizona and its selection of Mesa as the site of its newest manufacturing facility represents an enormous win for our state and a historic investment in our community.”
“This is a perfect example of the city of Mesa’s commitment to being a leader in bringing new, private investment to our state and region,” says Mesa Mayor Scott Smith.
“Apple’s presence in the region will be a game-change for the Greater Phoenix’s area, its innovation landscape and future ability to attract other high-tech companies,” says Barry Broome, CEO of Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “I’m convinced Apple could not have chosen a better location than Mesa and Eastmark.
In the biggest economic development news since Intel’s FAB-42, First Solar has inked a deal to sell its vacant building for $100M ($100/SF) to Apple as a manufacturing plant.
Apple, according to Smith, will be hiring around 700 people and 1,300 related to the construction. With typical industrial multipliers, that means more than 6,000 jobs for the East Valley. Apple will likely have a similar impact to what Intel did for the Price Corridor, and be a magnet for Gateway and Eastmark CRE development and housing.
Apple’s plans for First Solar include converting the facility to 100 percent renewable energy. Mesa’s statement says that the computer manufacturer is working with SRP to allow the utility “to invest in entirely new renewable energy projects” (Read the SRP/Apple story in AZBEX November 8).
The Arizona team was a partnership of Mesa, ACA, GPEC, SRP and Maricopa County. The state’s effort was a picture-perfect example of nimble project management, coming together in a matter of weeks. Apple’s focus on this market was likely generated by recent presentation efforts last year, including GPEC and Phoenix, when the company was looking for a back-office facility. The Phoenix market lost out to Austin at that time.
“Apple is indisputably one of the world’s most innovative companies,” extolls Governor Jan Brewer. “I’m thrilled to welcome them to Arizona.”