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Ohio runner-up for location of $1 billion Apple campus

By Mark Williams • Mar 6, 2019 at 5:00 PM

As it turns out, Ohio wasn't a finalist for just Amazon's massive second headquarters project last year.

The state came in second to Austin, Texas, for a $1 billion campus for Apple, according to the new annual report from JobsOhio, the state's economic development group.

"JobsOhio and its partners had been working actively with the leaders of Apple on a new job and capital investment commitment in Ohio," the report said in a section that talked about projects in which Ohio came up short in 2018.

"Ultimately Apple chose Austin, Texas, with Ohio coming in second. This is significant, because historically, Ohio was rarely considered as a location. Going forward, Ohio will continue to compete for notable investments from global brands."

The report didn't say where Apple was looking in Ohio, and JobsOhio officials wouldn't elaborate.

"This last year has demonstrated Ohio is on trajectory to win more and more tech jobs," said Ted Griffith, JobsOhio's managing director for technology, logistics and distribution.

Apple announced in December that it will build a 133-acre campus in Austin along with establishing new sites in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City in Los Angeles. Apple also said it will expand existing operations in cities in the U.S. including Pittsburgh, New York and Boulder, Colorado, over the next three years.

The project would have a been a big win for the state, initially accommodating 5,000 workers with the potential of as many as 15,000 workers.

Apple does have a significant relationship with Ohio State University that dates to the 2017-2018 academic year. Through a collaboration with Apple, OSU has started a digital learning initiative meant to support innovation for student and economic-development opportunities for the region.

The effort includes iPads for students and staff along with incorporating technology into classwork.

Unlike Amazon's public search for its project, dubbed HQ2, Apple's project was more in keeping with traditional economic-development projects in which little or no information is publicly disclosed until a decision is made.

"Apple has a much different modus operandi as does Google," said John Boyd, principal of the Boyd Co., which is based in Princeton, New Jersey.

Google recently picked New Albany for a $600-million data center project.

Boyd said he believes the Research Triangle region in North Carolina also was a finalist along with Austin for the Apple project.

Outside of Amazon and Apple, the report cited as another failure General Motors' decision to close its Lordstown plant in northeast Ohio, eliminating 1,600 GM jobs plus jobs at other companies that supplied GM.

"Part of JobsOhio's mission is to retain and support companies that have already invested in Ohio. Having a strong relationship with the GM leadership, JobsOhio remains in close communication with the company, local and regional partners, and the administration and legislative partners to manage the impact of GM's difficult decision to have no product allocation at the Lordstown plant," the report said.

JobsOhio, in collaboration with state, regional and local partners, announced 266 projects for 2018 in which companies promised to create 27,071 jobs, a 19 percent increase from 2017. Payroll from those new jobs will be $1.3 billion, a 23 percent jump from the year before.

These projects will also retain 69,905 jobs and lead to $9.6 billion in capital investment, a new high for JobsOhio.


©2019 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

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