Apple Inc. (AAPL) has selected North Carolina as the location for a new data center and will invest more than $1 billion in the project over nine years, Gov. Bev Perdue announced today. The announcement, which capped weeks of rumors about the huge project, cam after Perdue signed an incentive package that will provide significant tax breaks for Apple.
“North Carolina continues to be a prime location for growing and expanding global technology companies,” said Perdue. “We welcome Apple to North Carolina and look forward to working with the company as it begins providing a significant economic boost to local communities and the state.”
The facility will provide Apple with a major East Coast infrastructure hub to support its iTune music store and iPhone app store. The project is expected to employ at least 50 full-time employees.
Apple spokeswoman Susan Lundgren told the Charlotte Observer that the company is in the process of acquiring land and expects to begin construction right away. Apple has been considering sites in both Cleveland and Catawba counties. Backers of the site in Cleveland County have been told by state officials that it is “all but a done deal” that Apple will choose a rival site in Catawba County. The prospective Apple location in Catawba appears to be one of several locations county officials have been touting for data center projects.
Catawba County officials have been targeting data centers for development, and have been actively marketing several sites off Route 321 for their fiber and power infrastructure. One site advanced by Catawba for data center use is a 183-acre tract in Maiden known as Catawba Data Park, which may suit Apple’s reported desire for a multi-facility campus setting.
County officials have also been working with T5 Mission Critical Facilities, a company formed recently by former members of the data center practice at the Staubach Company.
The size of the project raises interesting questions about Apple’s ambitions for its online operations. The $1 billion price tag is nearly twice the $500 to $600 million that Microsoft and Google typically invest in the enormous data centers that power their cloud computing platforms.
The budget for the East Coast facility suggests a much larger facility than the 109,000 square foot Newark, Calif. data center Apple bought in 2006 to support its growing infrastructure. Apple also operates a data center on its Cupertino, Calif. campus, and has used content delivery networks from Akamai (AKAM) and Limelight Networks (LLNW) to distribute content to its users around the globe.
The North Carolina Department of Commerce projects that a data center investment of $1 billion would create more than 3,000 jobs in the regional economy, including hundreds of jobs related to construction and others created as a result of economic growth.