Pushing ahead with plans to invest $304 million in Austin, Texas, Apple has secured a deal for three large patches of land adjacent to its existing campus, which — when developed — will expand its presence in the area and result in the creation of more than 3,600 jobs.
The State of Texas offered Apple an investment of $21 million over ten years via its Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF), followed by an $8.6 million grant investment from the City of Austin.
As part of its City deal, Apple would need to invest $56.5 million in new facilities and equipment by the end of 2015, with an additional $226 million investment coming by the end of 2021.
Hauling trash-bags full of coffee grounds and kitchen scraps, two three-wheeled rickshaw bicycles raced past campus foot traffic.
The fleet had just finished their first compost pickup.
The owner of the cafe, Devon Jackson-Kali, met the students near the cafe to give them leftover coffee grounds…he also gave them pounds of cabbage heads, carrot peelings, celery and other scraps leftover from his kitchen operations.
Leaders of an undergraduate environmental research team known as Waste Watchers drove the custom-built, electric and pedal-operated bikes – or rickshaws – on an extended campus route for the first time. Using the rickshaws for transport, the team collects and recycles leftover scraps at their own compost site located in Sunset Canyon Recreation Center.
Chloe Green, the Weyburn project coordinator and a graduate student in urban planning, excitedly greeted the team on the street outside her apartment Wednesday.
Green said it felt “unnatural” not to compost at her Weyburn apartment. She grew up composting and said she has since learned the technique through trial and error.
The rest of Los Angeles may seem as congested as ever, but traffic at UCLA is the lightest it’s ever been since the university began measuring more than 20 years ago.
The 2011 commuting report marks the eighth consecutive year that UCLA’s vehicle count dropped. With an average of 102,000 trips daily, the number of vehicle trips into and out of UCLA in 2011 was more than 3 percent lower than in 2010 and almost 20 percent lower than the campus’s peak in 2003.
“Vehicle counts are lower now than they were in 1990, when the cordon count first began,” according to UCLA Transportation’s newly released State of the Commute annual report.
UCLA Transportation offers incentives to encourage UCLA’s approximately 41,000 students and 26,000 employees to use alternative transportation, including a 50 percent subsidy for transit passes, discounted parking for carpoolers and a partially subsidized vanpool. The department also offers a variety of other benefits through the Bruin Commuter Club, which is open to all alternative-mode commuters, from bikers and walkers to bus-riders and carpoolers.
UCLA is approaching its goal of convincing half of its employees to switch to alternative transit, and only 52.9 percent currently drive to work alone, compared with nearly 72 percent of Los Angeles County drivers. Only 25 percent of students drive alone.
Beyond the casinos, past the clubs, over the glittering, multi-million dollar hotels that light up the Las Vegas Strip, beat the quiet drums of innovation and progress. Change is afoot.
Las Vegas is on the verge of a renaissance, thanks, in part, to the fantastical vision and persuasive passion of Zappos CEO and Delivering Happiness author, Tony Hsieh.
What began as a relocation project, moving the online shoe and apparel shop headquarters from its Henderson location to downtown Las Vegas, has blossomed into a revitalization project, breathing new life into an area all too often described as seedy and run-down.
By the end of 2013, Zappos will take over downtown’s old City Hall building, which will receive a major renovation to accommodate 2,000 of its employees (the Henderson office is home to approximately 1,200), and several blocks of surrounding real estate have been procured to round out the “Zappos campus,” serving as a spark plug to the surrounding area.
It’s all part of Hsieh’s vision to make downtown Las Vegas a vital community — attracting families, urban dwellers, and business owners — to not only visit, but to live and thrive, with art galleries, yoga studios, coffee shops, book stores, sporting events and charter schools.
Hsieh is investing $350 million into the Downtown Project, with $200 million in real estate development, including residential, $50 million for small business investment, $50 million for education, and $50 million for start-up investments, in companies who are already in Las Vegas or are willing to relocate to downtown.
The start-up investment is a ripe opportunity for seedling companies looking for the right environment to get off the ground. Besides providing a lower cost of living, compared to many start-up hubs, the Downtown Project offers access to mentors, space and peers.
When I asked Zach Ware, who oversees campus, urban, and start-up development, about the strategy to attract start-ups and compete against fertile start-up grounds like Palo Alto, San Francisco and Seattle, he explained:
We’re less about comparisons and more about creating something new. Most cities have their fair share of incubation programs and other formal ways to accelerate learning and happiness. We see an opportunity to create a form of an incubator in an entire city, but without the formalities. So if you consider the elements that make up an incubator (proximity to mentors, proximity to others like you, access to capital and space) we think those things can be more organically scaled if they are a part of a city.
Taking a cue from the edicts in Triumph of the City, the project aims to make downtown Las Vegas a great place to eat, meet, work, live, learn, and play.
After witnessing first-hand the kind of company Tony Hsieh has built with Zappos — during my recent headquarters tour, one senior woman commented, “Boy, would I have loved to work here when I was young” — I have no doubt the project will be a success. In fact, it’s the only Vegas bet I’ll make.
Search the web for “Apple HQ,” and most of the results you get will be pictures of Apple’s Cupertino headquarters — from the outside. Usually with some fanboy standing next to the “1 Infinite Loop” sign. But what we really want to see is what’s inside the ultra-top-secret place where all our favorite gizmos are dreamed up.
This discussion will be moot a few years down the road when Apple opens its gigantic new wheel-shaped campus. But for now, this is the ultimate Nerdvana.