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In the age of HQ2, every new office announcement seems to send cities’ hearts racing. Apple’s announcement that it would accelerate investments in the U.S., add 20,000 new jobs over the next five years, and open a new campus in the next year was no exception.
On Twitter, the Apple announcement quickly drew comparisons to Amazon’s announcement last year that it would be opening a second headquarters somewhere in the U.S.
— Austin Statesman (@statesman) January 17, 2018
— Neil Hensley (@NeilHensley2) January 17, 2018
But Apple’s new campus isn’t likely to bring the same economic effect that cities are hoping it will.
For starters, Apple’s new campus isn’t a second headquarters at all. Apples’ press release stated that the company is opening a new “campus,” and also that it would increase hiring at “existing campuses” — implying that whatever facility is going to open isn’t going to be a mirror image of its Cupertino headquarters.
Apple also stated that the new campus would “initially house technical support for customers.” Apple did not immediately respond to a question about what other types of jobs it will add, if any, at the new campus. Meanwhile, Amazon’s HQ2 RFP stated that the company would bring “executive/management, engineering with a preference for software development engineers (SDE), legal, accounting, and administrative” jobs to its chosen HQ2 city.
According to Indeed, the average salary for a technical support staffer in the U.S. is $15.65 an hour — or $32,552 a year for a person who works 40 hours a week. Meanwhile, Amazon stated in its RFP that it was looking to bring up to 50,000 jobs with an average annual compensation of more than $100,000. It’s also unclear if the jobs Apple will bring to its new campus will offer similar benefits as corporate jobs.
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Second, it’s unlikely that Apple will choose a similar type of city for its new campus as Amazon will for its HQ2. According to Indeed chief economist Jed Kolko, Amazon and Apple are already very different companies in that Amazon favors an urban campus — and stated that its new HQ2 needed to be in an area with access to public transit. Meanwhile, Apple’s new Cupertino campus is more of a traditional suburban campus.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple’s new campus will be in the suburbs as well, but presumably, Apple will require fewer workers for its campus than Amazon’s HQ2. Apple said that it would be adding 20,000 new jobs over the next five years, not all of which will be at the new campus.
That does present a silver lining: A smaller town could likely land Apple’s new campus — a town that would see a greater economic benefit than if Apple opened a technical support center in, say, New York. Meanwhile, Amazon is only considering large metropolitan areas for its HQ2, since they need a place that can support 50,000 workers.
“Part of the impact [from Apple’s new campus] will come from there being more workers who may be spending money during the day … and that depends on what kind of services are provided onsite. Are people people going out to lunch in the neighborhood, or are they eating in the corporate dining hall?” Kolko said.
Apple’s announcement was unusual in that the company announced that it would be opening a new facility without saying where the new facility would be located. In the past, Apple has been very vigilant about keeping new facilities under wraps, going so far as using code names for data center project.
“I do wonder if with all the attention that Amazon got — whether other companies will now be more likely to publicize searches for new locations,” Kolko said.
It is likely that Apple already has a couple of locations in mind for its campus, but since the announcement already has cities wondering if they stand a chance at landing the campus, here are some cities where Apple has open roles for technical support positions, according to Indeed’s website: Raleigh, San Antonio, Atlanta, and Austin.
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