Data Center: Microsoft mulls Mebane for data center

by Amanda Jones Hoyle for The Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area

Software giant Microsoft is considering a site at an Alamance County industrial park near Mebane to build a massive data storage center facility, according to a report in the Burlington Times News newspaper.

The proposed data center is said to be one of two major data center projects that are considering sites in North Carolina that could benefit from new economic incentive legislation that is pending in the General Assembly.

Fidelity Investments is the other company that sources say is negotiating to build a data center in the state. It is considering a site in Garner. It would be Fidelity’s second data center in the Triangle. The state would require an investment of at least $75 million to qualify for the proposed state tax exemptions, according to the Keeping NC Competitive Act bill that is pending in the House.

The proposed Microsoft site could require an investment of at least $225 million to qualify for the state tax exemptions. The proposed legislation could also benefit a paper manufacturing plant and a turbine manufacturing plant that are proposed in other parts of the state.

A Microsoft official would not confirm its plans to build a site in Mebane, but a state official told the Burlington newspaper that the company is seeking both state and local incentives for the project.

The Alamance County Board of Commissioners canceled a meeting scheduled for June 29 that would have set a July 12 public hearing on granting incentives for the project. Per the county’s incentives policy, a company seeking incentives must be identified prior to the public hearing.

Alamance County Manager Craig Honeycutt was unavailable for comment.

A data center that Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) opened in suburban Chicago in 2009 cost a reported $550 million.

The company also announced earlier this month that it is resuming its plans to build a data center in West Des Moines, Iowa, but the $100 million facility will be smaller than the $600 million facility that was originally proposed in 2008. It is expected to open by spring 2011, according to an announcement from Iowa Gov. Chet Culver.

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