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Apple will spend $2 billion to turn its failed sapphire plant into a global command center

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Apple plans to spend $2 billion turning the site of its failed sapphire production plant into a data center. Apple tells Bloomberg that the site, located in Mesa, Arizona, "will serve as a command center for our global networks." The 1.3 million-square-foot building will be powered entirely by renewable energy and is expected to create 150 full-time jobs and 300 to 500 construction and trade jobs — far fewer than the 2,000 or so jobs that the sapphire production plant was supposed to make. "This multibillion-dollar project is one of the largest investments we’ve ever made," Apple says.

Apple initially built the plant for GT Advanced Technologies, which Apple forwarded a bunch of money to so that it could start building furnaces and churning out a ton of sapphire. The plant would have been an beautiful cog in Apple's supply chain — located in the US and able to provide it with enough sapphire to use on displays for many of its gadgets — but as it turned out, GTAT couldn't actually make that much sapphire, and it quickly filed for bankruptcy. Though that leaves GTAT in a bad spot, Apple seems to have found a way to repurpose its existing investments. With cloud services becoming increasingly important in Apple's software, a new data center certainly can't hurt.