Appealing project

Apple's search for new billion-dollar campus could throw Austin into the ring

Apple's search for new campus could throw Austin into the ring

News_Apple store_Highland Village_March 2012
Apple says it plans to create 20,000 over the next five years. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com

Update: Following publication of this story, Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly told ABC News that the new campus will not be in Texas or California. Watch ABC's report here

---

Amid the mad scramble for Amazon’s second headquarters in North America, Apple now is searching for its own version of HQ2. But could Austin be a contender for the new Apple campus?

On January 17, Apple said that over the next five years, it plans to create over 20,000 new jobs at a new corporate campus in the U.S. as well as at existing locations. Apple employs 84,000 people across the country, including more than 6,000 in Austin.

Last April, Apple opened its new $5 billion headquarters in Silicon Valley. In recent years, Apple has built a substantial presence in Central Texas, with Austin now home to the company’s largest campus outside Silicon Valley. The Bloomberg news service says the proposed campus announced January 17 would be similar to Austin’s existing 38-acre campus, which runs Apple’s business operations in the Western Hemisphere.

Apple’s announcement doesn’t refer to the new campus as a second headquarters, although numerous media reports characterize it that way. 

Cupertino, California-based Apple says its new corporate campus — which will be away from its home territory in the San Francisco Bay Area — will house an untold number of employees who initially will handle tech support for customers. The tech giant plans to unveil the location later this year.

In all, Apple says it’s pumping an estimated $350 billion into the U.S. economy over the next five years. That includes $30 billion in capital expenditures, such as the new campus.

“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,” Apple CEO Tim Cook says. “We have a deep sense of responsibility to give back to our country and the people who help make our success possible.”

Apple’s announcement doesn’t outline criteria for the new location. And, unlike Amazon, it doesn’t appear Apple will seek proposals from communities hoping to host the new corporate campus.

Austin is considered a leading candidate for Amazon’s so-called HQ2 campus, a $5 billion project poised to generate as many as 50,000 jobs.

So, with a plan now in place for another campus, could Austin be the apple of Apple’s eye?

William Mellor, vice president and general manager of Austin-based AngelouEconomics, an economic development and site-location consulting firm, says he doubts Austin will land the new Apple campus.

“We aren’t likely to get the new facility since it is focused on technical customer support. The Austin market certainly has the expertise for that type of activity, but is likely too expensive,” Mellor tells CultureMap.

However, Mellor says Austin “almost certainly” will benefit from Apple’s planned ramp-up of hiring at existing sites.

“We have the largest presence outside of Cupertino, and the recent investment from Apple in Austin is a strong indicator of Apple’s bullish outlook on our region,” Mellor says. “How many of those 20,000 jobs will we get? That is anyone’s guess, but I would bet that Austin will get more than its fair share.”

Representatives for Austin Mayor Steve Adler and the Austin Chamber of Commerce couldn’t be reached for comment.