States Vie for Rumored Apple Chip Manufacturing Plant

Over the past few days, speculation has grown that a number of states are competing to be the site of a multi-billion dollar project code-named “Azalea.” The project is thought to be owned by the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, which reportedly wants to build a factory in the U.S. that would fabricate semiconductors for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) products.

Speculation is nice, but is there any merit to these rumors?

So far, there is no hard evidence that any such project would be manufacturing chips for Apple products. The rumors are based off documents obtained by the Business Review of Albany, New York that detail a manufacturing plant that short-lists three possible sites in the state, and reports that consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu has evaluated sites in California and Texas for the project.

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Oregon is reportedly also competing for the project, which could employ as many as 1,000 people. The state’s economic development agency has confirmed that it is recruiting a company that is operating under the code name Azalea. The news comes on the heels of the state’s bid to attract millions in investment from Nike (NYSE:NKE) as part of its effort to curb its above-average unemployment rate.

The plant would be right in line with comments Apple CEO Tim Cook made earlier in December about moving some manufacturing to the U.S. Bringing jobs back the U.S. has been a hot topic given the current economic headwinds, and could give Apple products another edge against top competitors like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG).

“Next year we’re going to bring some production to the U.S.,” Cook told Bloomberg Businessweek in an interview. “This doesn’t mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we’ll be working with people and we’ll be investing our money.”

Such a facility could reduce Apple’s dependence on Samsung (SSNLF), which currently builds all of Apple’s custom A-series processors.

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