Scott Millar knew Apple’s impact on Catawba County could be huge when the economic developer first met with the company’s representatives at a now-defunct Tripp’s restaurant in Hickory in 2007. But he never expected the world’s most valuable company to invest $5 billion for its data center and solar farms on former farmland near Maiden. “Mind-boggling,” he calls it.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based behemoth started building a $1 billion data center in 2009 on a 182-acre plot formerly held by Don Beaver, owner of the Charlotte Knights baseball team. It has added buildings, acquired 300 acres for solar panels and fuel-cell technology to power its servers, and is now planning to buy another 237 acres. Apple has confirmed that it has put almost $3 billion into the site. With more construction under way, the tab is rising and may represent the biggest private-sector, non-utility investment in a single project in state history, says Ernie Pearson, a veteran economic-development lawyer in Raleigh.
Apple won’t say much about what it does in Maiden, but “it’s the home of all of their knowledge,” says Millar, CEO of Catawba County Economic Development. (Siri may rent a studio apartment in Maiden, some highly placed sources say.) The facility complements similar U.S. centers in Reno, Nev., and Princeville, Ore., for Apple, which had a stock-market value of nearly $700 billion in mid-February. (That is more than the total economies of all but about 20 nations.)
While it only takes 400 people to run the massive server farm, Apple’s financial impact on Catawba has been profound. It accounted for 6.6% of the entire county’s assessed property value in 2015, up from 3.9% two years earlier. However, the company doesn’t pay 6.6% of county taxes because of its sweet incentives deal with the county: a 50% tax rebate on buildings and 85% rebate on servers and other equipment. Still, Millar says Apple has been a godsend for Catawba, which has had population growth of less than 2% in the last decade and has fewer people employed than in 2007.
HUNTERSVILLE — Switzerland-based Oerlikon will invest $62 million and create 93 jobs over five years at a 3-D printing and research and development facility. The jobs will pay an average annual salary of more than $93,000, higher than Mecklenburg County’s $62,741. The company could receive a state grant of up to $1 million if it meets hiring and investment goals.
CHARLOTTE — MapAnything raised $33.1 million in a financing led by Columbus Nova, a Russian-owned investment manager. MapAnything develops an app that helps Salesforce users with scheduling and location services. The software company has raised a total of $40.4 million.
CHARLOTTE — Window- and door-maker Jeld-Wen raised $575 million in an initial public offering. Previously based in Oregon, the company relocated here in 2015 and announced in November plans to add 200 jobs in a headquarters expansion. Jeld-Wen employs more than 400 people in North Carolina.