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Microsoft plans to build data center in Cheyenne

Tue, 04/10/2012 - 10:06am
BEN NEARY - Associated Press - Associated Press

Microsoft Corp. has agreed to invest up to $112 million to build a new data center in southeast Wyoming, Gov. Matt Mead announced Monday.

Mead said work on the center near the state capital of Cheyenne should begin soon and should be operational next spring.

The state of Wyoming has pledged $10.7 million in grants and incentives for the project. Microsoft is making an initial $78-million investment and plans to go up to $112 million, Mead said.

Mead said the center ultimately may employ about 40 people in jobs that pay well over the local average. He said the data center promises to generate $25 million in tax revenues over five years.

Mead noted that Cheyenne has racked up other recent coups in the competitive world of attracting high-tech facilities. The National Center for Atmospheric Research recently choose Wyoming's capital city as the site for construction of one of the world's most powerful supercomputers and other private companies have located facilities there as well.

"We're looking good. We've got some great momentum," Mead said. "My hope is it won't be too soon, that we don't just mention ag, energy, tourism and small business, it will also add to that list, as a common practice, technology."

Officials said the center will help expansion of Microsoft's cloud computing efforts. Cloud computing allows workers to retrieve computer programs and key documents stored remotely using any device with an Internet connection.

Christian Belady, general manager of Data Center Services in Microsoft's Global Foundation Services group, issued a statement through Mead's office.

"Microsoft is excited to once again expand its cloud infrastructure and services capacities for our customers in Wyoming and the region," Belady said. "We greatly appreciate the work that the governor, the economic development team and local officials in Cheyenne and Laramie County have done to make Wyoming a smart place for Microsoft to do business."

Bob Jensen, head of the Wyoming Business Council, said the state is putting up $10.7 million in various incentives to lure Microsoft, including $5 million from data center recruitment funds provided by the Wyoming Legislature.

Randy Bruns, head of the Cheyenne-Laramie County Corporation for Economic Development (LEADS), said Microsoft has committed to provide certain salary levels. "The qualifying jobs have to be 150 percent of the county average or greater," he said. "Those are our numbers. They've agreed to meet or exceed those numbers.".

Bruns said the center will employ people from Wyoming as much as possible. He said the state for years has been educating people who could perform such jobs, but has been sending them out of state because of a lack of employment opportunities.

Although officials said they had agreed not to give the specific location of the data center, Bruns said it's being built on property owned by Cheyenne-LEADS west of Cheyenne. The NCAR supercomputer is also in the area.

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