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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Washington City Tax Breaks may Mean More Tech Growth

Associated Press

QUINCY, Wash. (AP) - This central Washington city known for its agricultural production is fast becoming a high-tech hub, and local officials hope the trend continues with a new tax break intended to lure more technology companies to the area.

Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc. and Intuit Inc. already have built data centers in Quincy, lured by available land and low-cost hydropower from the nearby Columbia River. The centers store and process Internet data.

Now Microsoft is working on an expansion, and Sabey Corp. purchased 40 acres last year for construction of a data center of its own.

"What Quincy is known for is amazing agriculture," Gov. Chris Gregoire said Monday at a ceremony to celebrate the growth. "But now it's a new day to offer up a more diverse economy and to bring the data centers here."

Gregoire signed a bill giving technology companies a sales tax break on some equipment if they obtain a building permit during the next year. The city and Port of Quincy also are working to build a recycled water project to provide treated water from the area's food production facilities for use by the data centers for cooling.

The first three data centers alone generated an additional $8 million to $10 million in sales tax revenue, Quincy Mayor Jim Hemberry said. Assessed property values grew from $260 million to more than $1 billion.

The extra revenue from sales taxes helped pay one-time improvements to city streets and parks, he said. The additional property tax revenue helped pay for a several new employees, including a police captain and city engineer, and property taxes were reduced.

"It's been a huge impact for our community and they've been really good neighbors," he said.