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Wednesday, June 03, 2009, 10:00 am PT (01:00 pm ET)

North Carolina greets Apple and $1 billion server farm project

Just one day after North Carolina lawmakers approved changes to the state’s corporate tax laws designed to lure Apple and a $1 billion server farm project to one of their rural communities, the state's Governor signed Senate Bill 575 into law and announced that the iPhone maker is coming to town.

“North Carolina continues to be a prime location for growing and expanding global technology companies," said Governor Beverly Perdue. "We welcome Apple to North Carolina and look forward to working with the company as it begins providing a significant economic boost to local communities and the state."

Senate Bill 575 was structured to give a single company — identified last month as Apple — a tax break of up to $46 million over the next 10 years, assuming that company reaches its $1 billion investment target within nine years of beginning the project, provides health insurance for its local employees, meets a wage standard, and foregoes other state grants or tax breaks.

Should Apple's server farm remain active for three decades, corporate tax breaks could exceed $300 million, according to estimates outlined by North Carolina's legislature. At least 50 full-time employees will staff the facility. Over time, the investment of $1 billion would create more than 3,000 jobs in the local area, as estimated by the North Carolina Department of Commerce. This type of facility would require local services, such as building and HVAC maintenance, landscaping, and other services, leading to an expansion of the local economy.

Though the exact location of the planned server farm has not yet been announced, the legislation dictates that it must be located in a Tier 1 or Tier 2 economically-distressed area. Apple has reportedly been considering two sites in western North Carolina to house the server farm, which is expected to support the staggering growth of its iTunes and App Store digital download services: Catawba and Cleveland counties, both of which have unemployment rates north of 15 percent.

Catawba County officials have reportedly been touting several sites off Route 321 for their fiber and power infrastructure in an effort to market those locations as viable data center lots. One site is a 183-acre tract in Maiden known as Catawba Data Park, which may suit Apple’s reported desire for a multi-facility campus setting.

“During these tough economic times, it’s important to make the investments that create jobs in areas that need them the most,” said Governor Perdue.