Only hours after the Waukee City Council approved city tax incentives and the Iowa Economic Development Authority approved about $20 million worth of state incentives, Apple was officially welcomed to the State of Iowa Thursday afternoon in a press conference at the State Capitol in Des Moines, featuring Gov. Kim Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, Waukee Mayor Bill Peard and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Peard took time to welcome Cook and Apple to the City of Waukee, saying he was looking forward to a “decades-long” partnership.
“The City of Waukee is excited to be selected for this project,” Peard said. “After the responsible leadership and planning from our city council and staff, we are thrilled to welcome Apple’s investment to the City of Waukee.
“We look forward to the great benefits of this partnership and what it will bring to our community as the project develops over the next two decades.”
Bravo Real Estate has been buying up land in the City of Waukee over the last year and now has official plans to build a $1.3 billion data center north of Hickman Road east of S Avenue.
Cook said that businesses, schools, government and more are coming together to “build a home for innovation in America’s heartland” with the building of the new data center.
“We see that commitment in Iowa’s education system, in the value that you place on creativity, adaptability, and new ways of thinking,” Cook said. “We see it in Iowa’s world-class power grid, and a focus on renewable energy that is a model for the entire nation.
“And we seed it in the developer ecosystem of Iowa, that have created apps that cover everything to entertainment to education. At Apple we admire what you guys have accomplished, and we want to be a part of it.”
Cook announced that the new data center, just like all of Apple’s data centers in the United States, will be powered entirely by renewable energy. According to Reynolds, Iowa is the No. 1 in the country in percent of electricity generated by wind.
Gov. Reynolds said that she saw the investment as a vote of confidence for the State of Iowa.
“For the past 20 months, Apple has been searching for the perfect location, and I am so proud to say that they found it right here in Iowa,” Reynolds said, garnering applause from those in attendance.
This first phase of the project, which includes two data center facilities, will serve North American users of iMessage, Siri, the App Store and other Apple Services.
“Data centers like this new facility are critical to Apple’s operations, and they make up the backbone of America’s innovation infrastructure,” Cook said.
He said that this data center will play a large role in the App Store’s continued success.
State and Local Impact
As a part of the agreements with the City of Waukee and the IEDA, Apple will create at least 50 full time jobs at a qualifying wage of at least $29.12 per hour, via the High Quality Jobs program.
Additionally, it will create many construction jobs.
The city’s development agreement with Apple states that city will exempt up to 71.30556 percent of the value added by the defined buildings from property taxes for a period of up to 20 years, commencing with the date any defined building in the initial project is first assessed for taxation. Additionally, if the city were to adopt a franchise fee, the city would rebate up to 100 percent of the franchise fees paid by Apple to the city.
Reynolds noted the many benefits of doing business in the State of Iowa, including educational and geographic.
“Our progress in STEM education and our focus now on ensuring that 70 percent of the workforce has education or training beyond high school shows companies like Apple that we are committed to delivering the workforce they need as well as creating the workforce for the future,” Reynolds said.
“Iowa has also created an environment that is conducive to growth, especially for data centers. We have the geographic benefit of being, statistically, one of the safest states in the United States, free from hurricanes, earthquakes, and rolling blackouts that might threaten the integrity of data centers. It is just a blessing to be in the heartland of America, right?”
Citing a recent study by the U.S. Chamber’s Technology Engagement Center, a typical data center employs 1,688 local workers, provides $77.7 million in wages, produces $243.5 million in output along the local economy’s supply chain and generates $9.9 million in revenue for state and local governments.
Apple plans on being an active member of the Waukee Community and the State of Iowa, with investments already planned in the City of Waukee. Cook said that they are contributing up to $100 million to a public improvement fund for the city of Waukee, which could be used for infrastructure.
“After all, you’re putting your faith in us, and we believe that ought to be a two-way street,” Cook said.
One of the first projects the City of Waukee and Apple will work on together, is the Waukee Youth Sports Campus, which is a part of the design plans for Waukee’s second high school, currently in the planning stages.
The youth sports campus will feature a greenhouse, a playground, a fishing pier and athletic fields for high school and community sporting events.
Strengthening Iowa Relations
Apple may be making its Iowa debut, but it’s no stranger to other Iowa companies, including the 3M plant in Knoxville, which produces adhesives Apple uses to produce the iPhone, or Stanley Engineering in Decorah, which makes fasteners Apple uses throughout their supply chain, and more.
“These are just a few of the 30 Apple suppliers that are located here in Iowa,” Cook said. “Those 30 Iowan facilities are a part of our larger network of 9,000 suppliers, large and small, that stretch across these United States.”
Last year, Cook says that Apple spent over $50 billion with their suppliers, including those in Iowa.
“Apple simply wouldn’t be the same company without them,” Cook said. “We’re proud that every iPhone, every iPad, every Mac, every Apple Watch, every Apple TV, contains parts and materials that come from America, are made with equipment that comes from American suppliers. Suppliers like those right here in Iowa.”
The planned data center project is the first phase of a project that will eventually lead to expansions and more jobs, although plans for future phases were not released on Thursday.