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Senate votes in favor of Wyoming data centers receiving tax breaks

By Max Burkhalter
February 14, 2011
A recent vote held in the Senate was in favor of awarding tax breaks to any mega data centers built in Wyoming. The hope, now that this measure has passed, is to entice Verizon to build its next data center, a $4 billion computer facility, in Laramie, Wyoming.

The vote passed by a count of 24 to 5, but before any member voted, the bill was amended to include reporting requirements on behalf of the center regarding its impact on the area, such as the amount of taxes exempted as well as the number of jobs by those companies receiving the exemption. Several members of the Senate, including the amendment's sponsor, Senator John Schiffer, want to ensure companies do not take advantage of the state's tax breaks. Another amendment to the bill was rejected before the approval vote, where the state could keep any exempted taxes for five years before returning them to the company.

Regarding Verizon, it currently has a two-year option on a 160-acre lot located a mile north of Laramie, where many expect - and have pleaded for - its new data center to be located. Officials at the communications giant have released no information about the plot yet.

"We know that there's a lot of things that go into their decision, but we sure hope that this is a sign and a signal to them that we would like to have them here and we think that would be a good addition to our community," said Senator Phil Nicholas.

Currently, Verizon has more than 250 data centers worldwide, a number that will continue to increase as the company's business grows.

The mega data center rumored in Laramie would provide as many as 200 jobs for employees, whose main responsibility would be to monitor and maintain the center's hardware. Wyoming state economic development officials believe Cheyenne is also being targeted as another destination for a mega data center.

The state's governor, Matt Mead, has recently requested nearly $14.5 million from the Legislature in order to make the state more enticing for companies to build data centers. The funds would be used to make locations more attractive through improving current infrastructure. If Mead's request is granted, in addition to the recent Senate approval for tax breaks, Wyoming could become a major destination for companies looking to add data centers.

In related news, IBM has been helping the Chinese government develop a mega data center the size of a city, which would span nearly 646,00 square feet.


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