Apple invests $250 million in Central Kentucky glass plant for iPhones, iPads

Harrodsburg’s Corning Incorporated has been awarded $250 million from Apple for its continued work developing glass for iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches.

It’s yet another investment in the company that has been making glass for iPhones for more than a decade. In 2017, Corning was awarded $200 million, which supported its research and development. Apple has spent nearly $3 billion with Corning, Apple said.

Apple said in a press release Tuesday that Corning is integral to its next-generation devices.

“Apple and Corning’s rich history dates back more than a decade, and our partnership revolutionized glass and transformed the technology industry with the first iPhone,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “This award underscores Apple and Corning’s shared belief in the vital role that ingenuity plays in creating industry-leading products, and the pride that both companies take in applying American innovation and advanced manufacturing to solve some of the world’s toughest technology challenges.”

The money comes from Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund, which has awarded more than $1 billion to American companies. Corning is one of Apple’s 9,000 U.S. suppliers.

The newest iPhone models, the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro which will be available later this week, have the toughest glass ever in a smartphone, Apple said.

Corning has been a part of Harrodsburg for more than 65 years and has nearly 400 employees with an average of 14 years of experience.

“We’re proud of what we’ve achieved through our collaboration with Apple, and excited by the new opportunities this additional investment creates,” said Wendell P. Weeks, Corning’s chairman, chief executive officer and president. “This Advanced Manufacturing Fund award will allow us to develop groundbreaking new glass innovations, while also expanding our manufacturing capabilities. Most importantly, our ongoing collaboration allows us to create vital new capabilities for end users and continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible well into the future.”

The company began developing glass for iPhones when former Apple CEO Steve Jobs demanded a redesign of the surface before the phone’s original launch. The initial glass Apple used did not withstand the phone being dropped, but Corning came to the rescue and has been making glass for iPhones ever since.

“The last thing I look at at night and the first thing I look at in the morning is my iPhone,” U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said when he visited in 2017. “And unlike most people, I think of Harrodsburg, Kentucky.”