Our coalition was formed in 2017 to bring together data center operators, labor unions, economic development organizations and other stakeholders to demonstrate the importance of incentives to spur data center investment statewide.
Experience in rural Washington demonstrates how effective incentives are in spurring investment, job creation and economic development. Construction of large data centers in rural communities has ebbed and flowed in direct relation to the state incentives provided – they work!
In 2017, Washington lawmakers directed the Department of Commerce to conduct an analysis of the economic value the state is losing due to our uncompetitive posture for metro-area data center investments. Results of the study will be presented to the legislature before the 2018 session.
We will be working during the 2018 legislative session to advocate for a new state policy to include metro areas in the data center incentive program, correcting their current disadvantage and stemming the loss of significant investments to other states.
What's At Stake
With no incentives to spur data center investments statewide, Washington risks losing our competitive edge.
By providing incentives only in a small number of select rural areas, Washington is at a disadvantage compared to other Western States. Take Oregon. Their lack of a sale tax, compared to approximately 10 percent here in Washington, is a major cost factor in facilities that cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Because of this and other incentives, since 2011, more than $1.9 billion has been invested in data centers in Hillsboro, Oregon. In contrast, despite having a significantly larger population and economy, the Puget Sound region has seen only an estimated $180 million invested in these facilities.
And when data centers locate elsewhere, Washington loses out not just on the initial investment, but also on future rounds of investment, upgrades and equipment installations.