House polishes Apple partner’s ‘innovation center’ in Mesa

Apple plant, Mesa
Apple plant, Mesa

By Phil Riske | Managing Editor

(STATE CAPITOL) – By an overwhelming 57-3 vote, the House on Tuesday passed HB2670, which would provide one of the world’s richest companies a $5 million tax credit based on its proposed used of self-generated renewable energy at its Mesa plant.

The state has announced Apple’s business partner, GT Advanced Technologies, would establish a high-tech manufacturing plant in the former First Solar Inc. factory in Mesa.

Prior to the House bill and a delayed companion measure in the Senate,

The Arizona Commerce Authority lured Apple to the Southeast Valley location with a $10million grant, the largest sum ever distributed by the group’s business development fund, according to documents released to The Arizona Republic.

In initial estimates for what is not called Project Cascade called for the creation of an estimated 1,300 construction jobs over two years at the Apple site and at least 700 full-time manufacturing jobs over five years with an average wage not less than $45,000.

Apple would have to invest at least $100 million in new renewable energy facilities and use some portion of that energy to power its data center To qualify for the sales tax credit

The bill also exempts Apple’s facility from sales taxes on electricity or natural gas, which will cost the state budget $1.3 million.

Columnist attacks the numbers

Robert Robb of The Arizona Republic wrote in a column the Mesa “global command center . . . in reality, it will be a giant warehouse full of computer equipment.

“There will be around 150 people employed to keep the computers operating. According to a recent Brookings Institution study, the Phoenix metro area has over 150,000 people already employed in advanced industries. So, landing Apple increases that by just one-tenth of one percent,” Robb stated.

“Arizona taxpayers are going to fork over $5 million so Apple can say it’s green.

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February 2015