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Apple clears final hurdle to bring sapphire-manufacturing plant to Arizona


AZCentral is reporting that the Gilbert Public School Board voted to approve a tax break for Apple, thereby clearing the way for Apple to open up its planned sapphire-manufacturing plant in Mesa, Ariz. Under terms of the agreement, Apple will buy the land, pay all expenses needed to build out the factory and then lease it back to GT Advanced, which will oversee the manufacturing operation.

The fate of the high-profile deal potentially worth hundreds of jobs seemed to hang in the balance, with the school district being the last of eight governing entities needed to approve a property reclassification that would entitle the premier tech company to a tax break.

News of Apple's plans to build a sapphire-manufacturing plant, in conjunction with GT Advanced, first surfaced earlier this month. Apple currently uses sapphire to protect the camera lens on the iPhone along with the the Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 5s. The scope of Apple's deal with GT Advanced, however, has led to many to wonder just what Apple might need all that extra sapphire for.

As for specifics regarding the tax breaks afforded to Apple, AZ Central indicates that the Arizona Commerce Authority "offered a US$10 million grant and other incentives to Apple to bring a high-tech manufacturing plant" to Mesa.

All told, Apple's foray into the sapphire-manufacturing business in Arizona will create an estimated 1,300 construction jobs along with 700 full-time manufacturing jobs.

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