It’s probably good that Apple is in the gadget creation business and not jobs. Turns out, the $1 billion data center the tech giant built down in North Carolina created just 50 full-time local jobs, working out to around $200,000 per spot. Although iCloud and other services likely to come from the site have plenty of tech fans, you won’t find too many “I Love Apple” bumper stickers in a town with double-digit unemployment.
The people of Maiden, NC, population 3,400, feel that the huge data center (which could power everything from iTunes, Siri and iCloud) has had little impact on their lives. The few who seem happy with the deal include the town manager, who sees big bucks from property taxes, and the couple who made $1.7M off selling Apple their one acre.
“Apple really doesn’t mean a thing to this town,” furniture maker Tony Parker told the Washington Post. An unemployed resident voiced pessimism about having Apple as a neighbor. “People around here don’t get those jobs,” he told the newspaper. “Those data jobs are not for us,” he added. The town could use more jobs – Maiden has a 13 percent unemployment rate, far higher than North Carolina’s statewide average of 10.5 percent.
However, Apple has a friend in Town Manager William “Todd” Herms. “I think the average citizen sees it affecting life,” he said. Herms called the Cupertino, California tech company “a great corporate neighbor.” But a neighbor without many local jobs — after all, how many small town North Carolina residents are trained to manage huge data centers, overseeing cutting edge cloud technology?
But there could be hope for Maiden. Apple is considering building a solar power farm for the datacenter. Perhaps even more promising is talk the company may double the size of the 500,000 square-foot site. If Apple wants to make friends with more than the local politicians, it needs to get its head out of the iCloud and create some iJobs..