Microsoft's plans for a huge data center complex in Racine County clicks with local boards
Microsoft's plan to greatly expand a data center it is building in Racine County sailed over another hurdle Tuesday night, as the Racine County Board gave its unanimous approval. The village board in Mount Pleasant did the same thing Monday night.
Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft is already building a data facility — a warehouse-like structure with racks of computer servers and other equipment — on about 300 acres in Mount Pleasant. The deal approved this week means Microsoft would acquire about 1,000 more acres from a local farm family, and of property Foxconn promised to use when the Taiwan technology firm got the blessing from then-President Donald Trump and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker six years ago. Foxconn has frequently changed plans since then.
Tuesday night, Union Grove Village President Steve Wicklund told the county board that he's thankful other local governments are backing the Microsoft deal.
"I just wanted to say, thank the Mount Pleasant board for weathering the storm early, and basically taking victory from the jaws of defeat in what was Foxconn, and now is going to be Microsoft," Wicklund said.
After the county board added its OK of the Microsoft package, Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave continued to defend Foxconn. Delagrave told WUWM that the firm has been making payments to make up for shortfalls in promised property value improvements.
"They have been, and are, fulfilling their obligations. They continue to fulfill their obligations. They're employing 1,000 people, and the fact of the matter is, Microsoft doesn't come if we initially don't have the Foxconn agreements," Delagrave said.
Foxconn, of course, promised up to 13,000 jobs, leading Walker and the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature to pass a huge incentive package for Foxconn.
Just how many jobs Microsoft will provide remains a little unclear. Delagrave said 1,500 — including construction jobs.
Racine County Board Vice-Chair Tom Kramer said Microsoft is promising 300 data center jobs for the 300 acre facility currently under construction, and so he predicts — eventually — 1,300 jobs for the 1,300 acres in the newly-approved plan.
"It's incremental. It's going to be overtime. I mean, this is not a quick project. But you can expect more jobs," Kramer said.
Kramer said both the county and Mount Pleasant would have protections if Microsoft shrinks its plan, in the way of the local governments getting back control of any land the computer giant doesn't use.