Apple has plans to repurpose a sapphire manufacturing plant in Mesa, Arizona, in an effort to preserve jobs, city officials say. The plant has been used by sapphire screen supplier GT Advanced Technologies, but its future has been uncertain since the company went bankrupt last month.
“They’ve indicated their commitment to us: They want to repurpose that building and use it again,” Mesa City Manager Christopher Brady told Bloomberg. Apple has promised city officials that it is focused “on preserving jobs in Arizona,” Brady added, and it will “work with state and local officials” as it considers its next steps.
The report comes just weeks after Apple confirmed in a statement that it would look for other uses for the 1.3 million-square-foot plant, and insisted it “remained committed to the city.”
Mesa, a city on the outskirts of Phoenix that’s home to around 450,000 people, has been coming to terms with the sudden shutdown of GT Advance since the manufacturer filed for bankruptcy and subsequently fired more than 700 employees.
Apple chose to build its sapphire facility there after city officials agreed to construct a new power plant that would provide 100% renewable energy to the factory, and cut property taxes by more than 70%.
Apple spoke of how proud it was to be bringing sapphire manufacturing to the U.S., and to a community still recovering from the 2007 housing bust, which eliminated a whopping 300,000 jobs in the Phoenix metro area. Its commitment to the plant, even after GT Advanced’s bankruptcy, will ensure that those who have jobs there won’t have to find work elsewhere when GT winds down its operations next month.
GT filed for bankruptcy not long after signing a contract with Apple worth $578 million. The company was set to supply a major share of the sapphire displays used in the upcoming Apple Watch, but it will reportedly stop manufacturing sapphire entirely after running into financial trouble.