Ap­ple qui­etly ex­plores N.Va. for a sec­ond lo­ca­tion, 20,000 jobs

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - BUSINESS - BY JONATHAN O’CONNELL

Ap­ple has qui­etly ex­plored the idea of open­ing a cam­pus for 20,000 em­ploy­ees in North­ern Vir­ginia, fur­ther ad­vanc­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that the Wash­ing­ton area could evolve into an East Coast out­post for Sil­i­con Val­ley.

Ap­ple’s con­sid­er­a­tion of the re­gion comes eight months af­ter Ama­zon se­lected three lo­cal ju­ris­dic­tions there as part of its high-pro­file search for a North Amer­i­can head­quar­ters out­side of Seat­tle.

Eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cials un­der Vir­ginia Gov. Ralph Northam pro­posed sev­eral sites for the project af­ter Ap­ple rep­re­sen­ta­tives said the com­pany was seek­ing 4 mil­lion square feet of office space to ac­com­mo­date 20,000 jobs, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials and real es­tate ex­ec­u­tives fa­mil­iar with the dis­cus­sions.

That amount of space is nearly two-thirds the size of the Pen­tagon and about half what Ama­zon is seek­ing for its sec­ond head­quar­ters, po­ten­tially set­ting up a com­pe­ti­tion be­tween the two tech giants for lo­ca­tions where they can at­tract top work­ers.

The sites pro­posed by Northam’s staff for Ap­ple in­clude office build­ings and de­vel­op­ment sites in Crys­tal City, pri­vately owned land in Loudoun County, the Cen­ter for In­no­va­tive Tech­nol­ogy and the Scotts Run de­vel­op­ment in Tysons.

Two of those lo­ca­tions, Crys­tal City and the Loudoun land, are part of sites Northam also pitched to Ama­zon. Both com­pa­nies plan to make a de­ci­sion this year.

When Ama­zon nar­rowed its search to 20 fi­nal­ist ju­ris­dic­tions, it in­cluded the District of Columbia, North­ern Vir­ginia and Mont­gomery County, giv­ing the Wash­ing­ton re­gion more en­trants than any other. The project at­tracted sub­sidy of­fers of as much as $7 bil­lion from some states, a frenzy of na­tional me­dia at­ten­tion, and protests from res­i­dents wor­ried about the im­pli­ca­tions of tech’s growth on hous­ing prices, traf­fic and in­equal­ity.

Mean­while, a re­port from CNBC on Wed­nes­day said Ap­ple is vet­ting the Tar Heel State as a site for a new cam­pus in the state’s Re­search Tri­an­gle re­gion that will house tech­ni­cal sup­port staff at first, and pos­si­bly ex­pand with other op­er­a­tions.

Ap­ple chief ex­ec­u­tive Tim Cook is said to have held some meet­ings with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper last week­end about the pos­si­bil­ity of Ap­ple bring­ing its new cam­pus to the state. Cook, who earned an MBA de­gree from Duke Univer­sity, was in Raleigh to de­liver the commencement ad­dress. Cooper has re­port­edly been ne­go­ti­at­ing an in­cen­tive pack­age to en­tice Ap­ple, but such a pack­age is said to still need ap­proval from the North Carolina state leg­is­la­ture.

By con­duct­ing its search in rel­a­tive se­crecy, Ap­ple has taken a dif­fer­ent tack in seek­ing its new space, some­thing Cook high­lighted in a re­cent in­ter­view when he said “we’re not do­ing a beauty con­test kind of thing.”

“From our point of view, we didn’t want to cre­ate this con­test, be­cause I think what comes out of that is you wind up putting peo­ple through a ton of work to se­lect one, so that is a case where you have a win­ner and a lot of losers. I don’t like that,” Cook said.

In a sub­se­quent con­fer­ence call with in­vestors, Cook said the com­pany had be­gun to fo­cus its search.

“We’ve nar­rowed the list a lot,” Cook said of po­ten­tial lo­ca­tions. “We wanted to nar­row it so we pre­vent this auc­tion kind of process that we want to stay out of.”

Ap­ple com­pleted its $5 bil­lion head­quar­ters in Cu­per­tino, Calif., nick­named “the space­ship” for its cir­cu­lar de­sign, last spring. More than 12,000 em­ploy­ees work there.

Ap­ple said in Jan­uary that it planned to spend $30 bil­lion on new fa­cil­i­ties and hire 20,000 em­ploy­ees in the U.S. over the next five years, and com­pany of­fi­cials said much of that growth will come at a new lo­ca­tion out­side of Cal­i­for­nia and Texas, home to its two largest hubs.

Ap­ple spokes­peo­ple de­clined to com­ment on whether North­ern Vir­ginia was be­ing con­sid­ered as a lo­ca­tion for the cam­pus. Its rep­re­sen­ta­tives also have pro­vided scant in­for­ma­tion be­yond its ba­sic cri­te­ria to of­fi­cials and de­vel­op­ers.

“They are much more se­cre­tive about their process,” one real es­tate ex­ec­u­tive said. An­other ex­ec­u­tive said there was the chance for both re­search and de­vel­op­ment jobs as well as call cen­ter po­si­tions.

2016, AP­PLE

Ap­ple re­cently fin­ished its $5 bil­lion head­quar­ters in Cu­per­tino, Calif., and plans to spend $30 bil­lion on fa­cil­i­ties in com­ing years.

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