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Friday, December 08, 2023
Mount Pleasant Microsoft Mount Pleasant and the new Microsoft data center development

Courtesy of Raimond Spekking

Microsoft to expand multibillion dollar investment in Wisconsin

Microsoft announced plans to expand its data center footprint in Mount Pleasant months after purchasing land from Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn.

Microsoft will invest billions of dollars to expand its data center footprint in Wisconsin, bolstering a commitment earlier this year by the technology giant to funnel $1 billion to Mount Pleasant. 

Gov. Tony Evers praised the move as a reflection of Wisconsin's economic strength and underlined the widespread benefits Microsoft would bring in a press release Friday.

“We are thrilled to see a global powerhouse like Microsoft continue to see the value and benefit of growing their operations here in Wisconsin and the booming southeast region of our state,” Evers said. 

Microsoft plans to construct the data centers across more than 1,000 acres in the Milwaukee suburb, with the company’s purchase of the land dependent on an agreement with Mount Pleasant and Racine County. The agreement calls for Microsoft to guarantee an additional property valuation of $1.4 billion by 2028. 

The majority of the land is currently owned by Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn, which acquired the land in 2017 to facilitate the construction and maintenance of a new manufacturing campus.

In May, Microsoft closed a $50 million purchase of 315 acres adjacent to the Foxconn property. Microsoft’s announcement Friday signaled their intention to buy the remainder of the Foxconn property. An attorney for Mount Pleasant told Wisconsin Public Radio Foxconn would release all of its rights in the district as part of the deal. 

Mount Pleasant and Racine County were shown the terms of the land purchase deal on Monday and Tuesday, with the boards expected to vote later this month. In the release, Evers emphasized the role of Mount Pleasant and Racine County officials in securing Microsoft's commitment, calling their cooperation “key.” 

Mount Pleasant and Racine County officials did not respond to a request for comment regarding the likelihood of the vote passing. 

Rep. Greta Neubauer, D-Racine, said in a statement to The Daily Cardinal the deal would provide economic benefits for southeastern Wisconsin. 

“I applaud all of the local leaders, Governor Evers’ administration and Microsoft for working together to invest in our local communities,” Neubauer said. “I hope that this project proceeds at the local level and I look forward to seeing the impact this partnership will have on our community.” 

Mount Pleasant has a shaky history with technology companies and their promises. 

In 2017 the Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn promised a $10 billion investment to build a state-of-the-art facility in the village, advertising the creation of 13,000 jobs. The deal fell through, leaving close to a billion in debt and only 1,000 people on the site today.

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Part of the reason the village accumulated debt is the creation of a tax incremental financing district for Foxconn. Todd Taves, a senior municipal advisor for Ehlers Public Finance Advisors, told Wisconsin Public Radio on Nov. 13 Mount Pleasant may be able to close the district, which has a lifetime until 2047, seven to 14 years earlier than expected, thanks to Microsoft’s investment. 

“The provisions collectively within these various agreements, put us in a much better financial position," Taves said, adding a closed district could retire Mount Pleasant's debt obligations.

After Microsoft committed to Wisconsin earlier this year, Evers signed bipartisan legislation in the 2023-25 state budget designed to put Wisconsin in a more competitive position for data center investments.

Microsoft expects to complete the first building in late 2026 if the village and county board approve construction.

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Gavin Escott

Gavin Escott is a senior staff writer and photographer for multiple desks at The Daily Cardinal. Throughout his time at the Cardinal, he's written articles for city, state, campus and breaking news. He is the current host/producer of the Cardinal Call podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @gav_escott.


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