Microsoft acquires over 1,000 acres of land in Wisconsin for data center campus
01/04/2024 // Laura Harris // Views

Technology giant Microsoft has acquired more than 1,000 acres of land in Wisconsin for almost $176 million to build a $1 billion data center campus.

The company acquired 407 acres in the town of Mount Pleasant from the Creuziger family for $76 million. Included in this 407-acre purchase is the Land of the Giants pumpkin farm and a corn maze measuring nine acres.

However, this was not the first time the Creuzigers were offered a huge sum for their land. Back in 2017, negotiations between the family and the local government took place – with the Creuzigers being offered a third of the final sum as part of an agreement with the Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group. The family turned down the initial offer and chose to wait for a better deal.

Aside from this, Microsoft also purchased 641 acres from the town itself for $99.7 million. The company paid $63.2 million for 400 acres on Braun Road and Durand Avenue. It shelled out another $36.5 million for 241 acres on County Highway H. (Related: Microsoft inked deals with ChiCom propaganda outlets, documents show.)

All in all, Microsoft acquired a total of 1,048 acres for the total price of $175.7 million.

According to The Verge, Microsoft intends to kick off its presence in Mount Pleasant by building a data center campus – signaling a substantial investment of over $1 billion in the region. The tech giant plans to hire an initial 200 employees, with the potential to increase the workforce to over 460 jobs over time. However, this falls short of the initially promised 13,000 jobs by Foxconn in 2017.

Critics: Data center not going to produce enough jobs

Microsoft earlier announced plans to develop a $1 billion data center campus in Mount Pleasant. The site was initially reserved for Foxconn, which planned to build an LCD screen manufacturing plant in the area. The Taiwanese company known for being a major manufacturer of Apple's iPhones entered into a $10 billion agreement with then-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in 2017.

Under the agreement, Foxconn would build a facility employing 13,000 people in exchange for substantial subsidies. However, the company was forced to downsize – causing it to fail to deliver on its job promises. This also prompted a need for alternative development on the Mount Pleasant site.

The agreement mandates Microsoft to begin construction by 2026, and allows the imposition of 42 percent of property taxes capped at $5 million annually. Moreover, the local government of Mount Pleasant can repurchase the land at the original price if Microsoft fails to meet the construction deadline.

While the 2017 Foxconn deal faced criticism for its lack of transparency and unmet promises, Microsoft's entry into the region is seen as a positive development. Although data centers aren't seen as significant job creators, they play a crucial role in processing and storing vast amounts of computer data and form the backbone of the internet.

David DeGroot, village president of Mount Pleasant, said: "Through local investments, we have transformed this area of Mount Pleasant and equipped it with the infrastructure necessary to support a major investment by Microsoft."

However, Racine County Board Supervisor Marlo Harmon expressed skepticism about the deal. She stressed that a data center may not provide the required job opportunities for the county compared to a factory. Based on her estimates, a data center on this scale could only employ fewer than 100 people.

"Any business coming into the county – especially a business as successful as Microsoft – is a good thing," said Harmon. "I'm only in disagreement with Microsoft coming because it’s not going to produce the jobs we need for the county."

Follow for more news about Microsoft.

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