Leading figures at North Carolina’s HBCUs have spoken of their hopes that Apple’s impending move to the state will help produce a more diverse tech workforce.
Apple unveiled plans to build a campus and engineering hub in the Research Triangle, a region in the Piedmont of North Carolina. The tech giant announced it will commit more than $3 billion in investments and create approximately 3000 jobs for the area.
The jobs will be in cutting-edge fields in machine learning, artificial intelligence, software engineering, and other cutting-edge fields. The planned new campus is close to HBCUs Shaw and St. Augustine’s University (SAU).
Before the news was made public Dr. Paulette Dillard, president of Shaw and SAU President Christine Johnson McPhail had been called by Apple representatives who were seeking public support.
Both women said they hoped that the move could create partnerships that could drive diversity in tech by using HBCUs to help fill the pipeline for high-paying jobs that were often out of reach and for students of color.
Recalling how she felt when she first heard the news Dillard told local station abc 11: “I was excited. But I did have to pause and ask a question: how does that translate to a broadened opportunity for a Shaw University or a St. Augustine’s University? I did ask them (Apple) is there a way to ensure that the smaller institutions like Shaw could benefit from this amazing announcement. I think their commitment to underrepresented communities is front and center.”
McPhail said: “I felt optimistic. I did. And I still do. I think there needs to be deeper conversations. I’m looking for a cash infusion as well that we can tailor to some specific needs. And I’m not talking about £10,000 either.”
She went on: “I’d like to be sitting across the table from the corporation and say ‘this is what we need. Can you do it? Can you partner with me? We know that there are billions out there. So if we’re really serious about making a difference let’s make a difference.”
Following the announcement, Apple said it will also establish a $100 million fund to support schools and community initiatives in the greater Raleigh-Durham area and across the state, and will be contributing over $110 million in infrastructure spending to the 80 North Carolina counties with the greatest need — funds that will go toward broadband, roads, and bridges, and public schools.
Apple estimates that its investment will generate over $1.5 billion in economic benefits annually for North Carolina.