Apple Deal 'All But Done' for Catawba, NC

A deal for Apple to build a major data center at a site in Catawba County, North Carolina is "all but done" and may be sealed when the state Senate finalizes an incentive package.

Rich Miller

June 1, 2009

3 Min Read
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A deal for Apple to build a major data center at a site in Catawba County, North Carolina is "all but done" and may be sealed when the state Senate finalizes an incentive package that could add up to $3 million in anual tax breaks for the company, according to local media reports.

Apple has been considering two sites in North Carolina for a potential $1 billion data center project that will provide it with a major East Coast infrastructure hub to support its iTune music store and iPhone app store. Backers of a 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.

On Thursday the North Carolina Senate gave preliminary approval to the incentive package for Apple, with a final vote scheuled for this evening. Gov. Beverly Perdue is expected to sign the bill if it passes.

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. "We have anticipated the needs of the data center industry and are working daily to make Catawba County one of the best place in the country to locate data centers and server farms," Scott Millar, president of the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation, said on the agency's web site.

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. T5 is developing a site near Route 321 in with an existing 150,000 powered shell with up to 120 megawatts of power available for a single large user. The company says the power from Duke Energy is priced at 3.8 to 4.4 cents per kWh.

Apple's apparent preference for Catawba County emerged in the Shelby Star, which profiled the efforts by Cleveland County officials to attract Apple to a former Chris-Craft facility in Kings Mountain. "State officials have told Cleveland County to 'run through the tape,' in case something goes wrong with Catawba County's bid," the paper reports. "And that still can't be ruled out, but officials say it is 'all but a done deal' that Catawba will win the Apple sweepstakes."

The incentive package moving through the state legislature offers income tax breaks to companies that invest more than $1 billion over nine years in a rural area of the state and pay above-average salaries, according to local media. Catawba county had an unemployment rate of 15.6 percent in March.

The $1 billion price tag is nearly twice the $600 million that Google is investing in a large data center in Lenoir.

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