In an attempt to bring part of its device production back to the U.S., Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will build a new manufacturing plant in Mesa, Ariz., dedicated to producing sapphire glass materials for the company’s future products, Gov. Jan Brewer announced on Monday.
In a State of Arizona report, Brewer said that Apple’s latest manufacturing facility is expected to drive growth in the state as it will create at least 700 quality jobs in the first year and generate significant capital investment. The new project will also produce approximately 1,300 additional jobs associated with the plant’s construction.
"Apple is indisputably one of the world's most innovative companies and I'm thrilled to welcome them to Arizona," Brewer said in a statement. "Apple will have an incredibly positive economic impact for Arizona and its decision to locate here speaks volumes about the friendly, pro-business climate we have been creating these past four years. Their investment in renewable energy will also be greening our power grid, and creating significant new solar and geothermal power sources for the state."
Apple reportedly purchased the vacant manufacturing facility from Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar, and has contracted with GT Advanced Technologies (NASDAQ:GTAT) to manufacture sapphire glass materials on the site.
“We are proud to expand our domestic manufacturing initiative with a new facility in Arizona, creating more than 2,000 jobs in engineering, manufacturing and construction,” Apple told Pocket-Lint. “This new plant will make components for Apple products and it will run on 100% renewable energy from day one.”
On Monday, Hong Kong's GT Advanced Technologies, whose U.S. headquarters are in New Hampshire, also announced that it had entered "into a multiyear supply agreement with Apple Inc. to provide sapphire material." According to the company, Apple will provide it with a prepayment of approximately $578 million, which is expected to be reimbursed in five years, beginning in 2015.
GT said that its 2014 revenue is expected to be in the range of $600 million to $800 million, with the "sapphire segment comprising up to approximately 80% of the year's total revenue.”
Apple currently uses sapphire glass, which provides better durability and scratch resistance than other forms of glass, in camera lenses and on the Touch ID-equipped home button on the iPhone 5s. With the opening of the new Arizona facility, Apple could be aiming at expanding the technology across its product lines.
Reports that surfaced in March had suggested that future smartphones may feature sapphire, a crystalline form of aluminum oxide, instead of traditional forms of glass. Apple also was recently reported to be experimenting with sapphire displays.