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Posted on Feb 20, 2015

Proponents hope video shines light on value of data center incentives

Featuring the Quincy community, Microsoft released a short video this week that it is hoping educates the state Legislature about what kind of an impact data centers can have on rural communities.

And, as a result, convinces state leaders to extend sales and use tax exemptions for data centers built in rural areas. The tax exemptions are set to expire in June.

The six-minute video, “How Data Centers Help Rural Communities,” features several local faces, including Mayor Jim Hemberry, Port of Quincy Commissioner Brian Kuest, Quincy School District Superintendent John Boyd and local businesswoman Harriet Weber.

The goal of the video was to show the economic impact the data centers have had on Quincy, said Irene Plenefisch, government affairs director for Microsoft. Plenefisch was at the Quincy City Council meeting on Tuesday, when the video was played for council members.

Microsoft wants the Legislature to understand the “positive and significant impact” data centers have had on rural communities, whether that be jobs created or the increase in tax dollars generated for a community, Plenefisch said.

In the video, Hemberry said the six data centers in Quincy have created about 400 jobs. At the height of their construction, about 1,000 construction workers were employed, he added.

The data centers make up about 50 percent of Quincy’s assessed evaluation, Hemberry said. So, when a taxing district such as the school district asks voters to approve a levy, the data centers are paying for about half of the levy, he said.

Kuest said in a meeting of community leaders last week that if those incentives are renewed, at least three Quincy data centers may expand.

Before the Legislature this session are two companion bills proposing the extension of the sales and use tax exemptions for data centers built in rural areas. Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses, is sponsoring SB 5827 and Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, is sponsoring HB 2011. Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, also is sponsoring HB 1759, which modifies the current exemptions.

The video is on YouTube and posted at www.qvpr.com.

— By Jill FitzSimmons, editor@qvpr.com

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