Last week, one of Washington state's biggest resident boasts in business, our very own Microsoft announced loud and clear that it will go outside of Washington to build one of the nation's largest data centers in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Why Iowa, not Washington? Because Iowa had the freedom to grant Microsoft a $20.3 million sales tax rebate that would be available through 2021.
West Des Moines' mayor is understandably beside himself with glee, anticipating not only the staggering property taxes involved but also the attraction of spin-off companies and suppliers to the area. He commented,
“This is a huge day for all of us. It really sets up central Iowa as the leading technology center in the United States. We really do think that central Iowa will be the leader in global tech companies when it comes to data-center and related businesses. We think we have huge momentum. We believe our best days are ahead of us.” Quad City Times
The Des Moines Register reported the data center project would bring about $8 million annually in property taxes once its building is complete in five to seven years. That amount is about 14 percent of the city's annual operating budget.
The project also translates into new jobs for Iowa at good wages. Senator Holmquist Newbry, 13th legislative district, is quoted as saying,
“Those jobs could have gone to Quincy, Yakima, or Pasco. Iowa can’t compete with Washington when it comes to our quality workers or our clean, abundant, and affordable energy; the difference maker was clearly that Iowa was willing to give the industry long-term certainty on its tax burden, while House Democrats in this state refused to do the same.”
“The decision by Microsoft to locate one of its largest facilities in Iowa is a harbinger of things to come thanks to the failure of House Democrats to act.”
House Democrats failed to hold a vote on Senate Bill 6550, which was designed to extend the expiration date from 2015 to 2025 of a tax incentive for technology firms willing to build data centers in Washington. The measure passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 35 to 13, but died in the Democrat-controlled House Finance Committee.
See also article from June 21, 2013: Microsoft Announces Expansion of West Des Moines Data Center "'The City of West Des Moines appreciates the confidence Microsoft has in our City as evidenced by Microsoft's decision to expand their operations here,' said West Des Moines Mayor Steven Gaer. 'Creating a business friendly City and corresponding economic development has been an area of emphasis for the City of West Des Moines for several years. Microsoft's selection of West Des Moines for expansion is proof that our efforts continue to pay dividends.'"