Apple to invest $200 million in scratch-resistant glass

HARRODSBURG, Ky. — Apple says it will invest $200 million in a rural Kentucky facility that it credits with rescuing the company’s signature smartphone from a design flaw that would have led to scratched screens.

The California-based company announced Friday it would give the money to Corning Inc. to use at its facility in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. Apple and Corning first teamed up 10 years ago when former Apple CEO Steve Jobs ordered the plastic screen on the company’s first iPhone to be replaced with a scratch-resistant glass just a few months before the product was to launch.

Since then, Corning says it has made 552 million square feet (51 million square meters) of its Gorilla Glass product for iPhones and iPads, or roughly enough glass to cover 10,000 football fields.

“All of that work happened right here in Harrodsburg, and Apple owes you a big thank you,” Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams told workers at Corning’s Harrodsburg facility on Friday.

Williams said the money is the first of $1 billion the company plans to spend on US-based companies from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund.

“It’s only fitting that the first commitment from that fund be for Corning and specifically for Harrodsburg, where so much of our history is,” Williams said.

Williams was joined by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Corning CEO Wendell Weeks.

Officials from both companies did not say if the money would bring more jobs to Kentucky, or if the state offered any tax incentives for the investment. Corning officials said the money would be used “to sustain” the 400 employees who work in Harrodsburg. Officials said the partnership between Apple and Corning has produced 1,000 jobs in the United States.

It was the fourth major business investment in Kentucky this year. In January, Amazon announced it would spend $1.4 billion to build a worldwide cargo hub in northern Kentucky. Toyota has said it will spend $1.3 billion in its Georgetown plant that produces its flagship Camry sedan. And last month, Braidy Industries announced it would spend $1.3 billion to build an aluminum plant in eastern Kentucky.

State taxpayers could pay nearly $100 million in tax incentives to those companies over the next 10 years if they meet projected goals with spending and job creation.

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