Earlier this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook, a Duke MBA graduate, said the company would be opening a fourth campus in the U.S., a similar move to how Amazon is currently searching for its second headquarters. Jeff Chiu AP
Earlier this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook, a Duke MBA graduate, said the company would be opening a fourth campus in the U.S., a similar move to how Amazon is currently searching for its second headquarters. Jeff Chiu AP

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Could North Carolina be a contender for a new Apple campus? One analysis thinks so.

By Zachery Eanes

zeanes@heraldsun.com

March 08, 2018 04:53 PM

For the past few months, the Triangle has been inundated by reports about whether it is — or isn't — a contender for Amazon’s second headquarters.

Now comes a Bloomberg News analysis that puts the state in the running for another glitzy corporate relocation: Apple's.

In January, the technology giant announced it was looking for a fourth campus — outside of California or Texas — for its workers.

According to Bloomberg's report it considered several criteria for winnowing down potential landing spots for Apple’s fourth campus: regions where Apple already has a strong presence, proximity to suppliers, local business conditions and costs, concentration of educated talent and adjacency to transportation hubs.

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Judging by those standards, North Carolina could be an attractive landing spot for Apple, according to Bloomberg — along with Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, upstate New York, Florida and Midwestern states like Illinois and Wisconsin.

The Triangle would be a competitive place for a new Apple campus, said Ryan Combs, the executive director of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, the group that is leading the region’s bid for Amazon’s HQ2.

“Apple would find a perfect fit in the Triangle,” Combs said in an email. “The Triangle’s education system, access to talent, low taxes and low cost of living, and our competitive business climate have helped tech companies like Ipreo, Red Hat, Metlife and Fidelity thrive in the Triangle,” he added. “These attributes are also why global tech giant Infosys announced last year that they were opening a tech hub in Raleigh in 2018 and hiring 2,000 employees.”

From RTP to Chatham Park,Triangle leaders have several locations in mind as they woo Amazon's second headquarters to the area. Here's a look at some of the prospects.

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Why Apple is looking for a fourth campus

Apple announced its search for a fourth campus in January, shortly after Congress passed sweeping tax cuts for corporations. The expansion is part of a “commitment to support the American economy and its workforce.”

The company has said that its new facility wouldn’t be in California or Texas, and that initially, at least, it will be the home of call-center staff.

Beyond that, not much is known about the project or how many workers it would house. In its January release, Apple said the location of a new campus would be named later this year. Efforts to reach representatives for Apple were not immediately successful. Its current campuses are in Cupertino, Calif., Elk Grove, Calif., and Austin, Texas.

Apple said it expects to create 20,000 new jobs through hiring at existing campuses and opening a new one over the next five years. The company currently employs 84,000 people in the U.S.

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“Apple is a success story that could only have happened in America, and we are proud to build on our long history of support for the U.S. economy,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in January. “We believe deeply in the power of American ingenuity, and we are focusing our investments in areas where we can have a direct impact on job creation and job preparedness. We have a deep sense of responsibility to give back to our country and the people who help make our success possible.”

Some have suggested that Cook is another reason the company could consider the Triangle. He earned his MBA at Duke University.

Why N.C. is attractive

So what’s the case for North Carolina being the recipient of Apple’s investment?

For starters, It has a generous business environment that isn’t reluctant to gift incentives.

Both Charlotte and Raleigh ranked among the top 15 cities for tax incentives and local business environments, according to Moody’s Analytics, which Bloomberg consulted.

Raleigh was able to woo global technology consulting firm Infosys last year after approving a $1 million financial incentive package. Infosys also got $25 million incentive package from the state as well for hiring 2,000 employees over the next five years.

Apple is familiar with those incentives as well. The company has a data center in Catawba County near Charlotte, where it has invested more than $1 billion . To land that Apple facility, the state approved $46 million in tax breaks for the company.

Another advantage is that North Carolina is in the Eastern Standard Time zone. "The East Coast has one obvious advantage: the ability to provide customer support before existing call centers in Texas and California open for the day, as well as its proximity to hundreds of suppliers," Bloomberg's analysis said.

The state didn’t rank as high for its workforce education — though Bloomberg emphasized bachelor’s degrees over advanced engineering degrees, “which arguably fit better with Apple’s plans to recruit technical support people, rather than those working on products and operations,” Bloomberg reported .

The Northeast excelled in that category.

North Carolina also didn’t fare as well in public transportation rankings, which was also dominated by Northeastern states. Neither Charlotte nor Raleigh ranked in the top 15 for public transportation in the U.S., according to Moody’s.