After years of outsourcing much of its manufacturing to Chinese suppliers such as Foxconn Technology Group and facing criticism from labor groups and politicians for the practice, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has made adding jobs in the U.S. a priority.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company will next month release a new Mac Pro that is being assembled in the U.S.
Apple said late Monday it’s opening a new plant in Mesa, Ariz., that will create 2,000 jobs to make components.
Apple will pay $578 million to GT Advanced Technologies Inc. to supply equipment for the facility, GT Advanced said. The machines make materials out of sapphire, which is increasingly used in smartphones to cover camera lenses and home buttons.
“We are proud to expand our domestic manufacturing initiative with a new facility in Arizona, creating more than 2,000 jobs in engineering, manufacturing and construction,” said Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple. “This new plant will make components for Apple products and it will run on 100 percent renewable energy from Day One.”
Apple didn’t specify what products will be made at the plant.
GT Advanced, based in Merrimack, N.H., said it has a multiyear agreement with Apple to provide furnaces used to make sapphire material. Apple is prepaying the $578 million, which GT Advanced said it will reimburse over five years starting in 2015. Under terms of the deal, Apple will receive some exclusivity rights from GT Advanced.
Demand for sapphire materials has surged since Apple started using it as a camera-lens cover in 2012, according to a report last month from market research firm IHS. The material also is used for the home button of the iPhone 5s that has new fingerprint-reading technology, according to IHS.