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Apple still labeled an ‘active recruitment project’ in North Carolina

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s ties to Duke University had fueled speculation that the tech giant would bring its fourth campus to the Triangle. Cook received his MBA at Duke and is on its Board of Trustees.
Apple CEO Tim Cook’s ties to Duke University had fueled speculation that the tech giant would bring its fourth campus to the Triangle. Cook received his MBA at Duke and is on its Board of Trustees. AP

North Carolina hasn’t given up on its efforts to woo tech giant Apple to the Tar Heel state, according to the state’s Commerce Department.

In an email on Monday, a spokesman for the department, which handles corporate recruiting efforts for the state, said the project is still an “active recruitment project” despite the fact that Apple excluded North Carolina from a large round of expansions in December.

In December, the iPhone maker announced it would invest $1 billion to create another campus in Austin, Texas, as well as establish new sites in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, Calif.

Neither Raleigh nor the Research Triangle were mentioned — though Apple’s news release did say there was the “potential for additional expansion elsewhere in the US over time.”

“While we’re certainly aware of the company’s December 13 announcement involving expansions in other locations, including Austin, that news isn’t relevant to our case,” Commerce spokesman David Rhoades wrote in an email to The N&O. “This remains an active recruitment project for North Carolina.”

Up to this point, the Commerce Department hasn’t commented on whether Apple was an active project or not. However, it hasn’t fulfilled The N&O’s request for records on the recruitment of Apple or given a time frame for releasing the documents. Records are usually released after a project has been publicly announced or is no longer active.

Rhoades said Monday Commerce still doesn’t have a time frame for when it will release those records. However, it can withhold records for a project that is active. Earlier this month, Wake County rejected a records request on Apple citing that reason.

In the meantime, speculation about Apple’s interest in the Triangle hasn’t gone away.

On multiple occasions, Gov. Roy Cooper has said the state is still in “open negotiations” with Apple without expanding upon the meaning of that.

And in late December, more than 200 undeveloped acres in Research Triangle Park — which Apple was reportedly interested in — were bought for nearly $50 million, The News & Observer reported.

Available information about the buyer of the land, Acute Investments LLC, was limited. On a deed for the sale, Raleigh law firm Parker Poe and one of its lawyers, R. Bruce Thompson, are listed for Acute Investments address. Thompson is a registered lobbyist for Apple and Daimler Trucks, among other companies, according to the North Carolina secretary of state’s website.

In an email at the time, Thompson said he didn’t have any comment on the sale.

According to an agreement signed between the Research Triangle Foundation and the buyer, Acute Investments has 10 years to begin construction on the property instead of the standard four years that the park requires, according to Wake County records.

Acute would also have four years to complete construction on the property once that starts, rather than the standard two years under the park’s covenants — all of which are time lines that can result in the foundation fining Acute or buying back the property, according to the county records.

Research Triangle Foundation has declined to comment on the sale.

Zachery Eanes: 919-419-6684, @zeanes

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Zachery Eanes is the Innovate Raleigh reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He covers technology, startups and main street businesses, biotechnology, and education issues related to those areas.
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