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First Areva, Now Microsoft Snubs Washington for Billion Dollar Project

Microsoft chooses Iowa for billion dollar project.
Microsoft chooses Iowa for billion dollar project. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

You would think state officials would have learned from the past.

You might remember a few years ago, when Gov. Gregoire was still in office,  the French nuclear industrial giant Areva wanted to build a new nuclear fuel related plant at Hanford that would have created several thousand construction jobs, and eventually employed over 600 people permanently.   While Rep. Doc Hastings and Senators Murray and Cantwell joined forces to pressure Gregoire to do everything in her power to help lure the plant to the Tri-Cities, her primary concern was the environmental impact.   Her cold shoulder resulted in Areva building it elsewhere.

Guess they didn’t learn.   Microsoft announced Monday they are going to put up a billion dollar tech development facility in Iowa, largely because Washington state dragged it’s feet over tax incentives.

Iowa offered some $20 million in tax incentives and breaks for the computer company to locate it’s new development plant there, and they took it.   Iowa leaders realized the long-term economic effects of such a huge plant would bring in far more tax revenue from hundreds of jobs, new homes,  purchases made by these new workers etc.

The announcement came weeks after the legislature adjourned in Olympia without extending a series of high-tech tax incentives that were due to expire July 1st.   If you had any doubt about whether this was a big factor, see what Microsoft’s Senior Director for state government affairs had to say to the Seattle Times:

“Our concern is that a failure to offer tax incentives to encourage technology investments in this state is making Washington uncompetitive for future siting decisions by Microsoft and other technology-based employers.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened.   In 2010, when Washington state offered up tax incentives to Microsoft,  several billion dollars in server-farm investment came to our state.  When lawmakers allowed the tech incentives to “dry up” in 2011,   $1 billion worth of projects went to Oregon.    Business leaders say it’s not only affecting Microsoft, but OTHER leading tech and development firms are now looking elsewhere for locations.

State Senator Jenea Holmquist-Newbry (R-Moses Lake) had sponsored and fought for a bill that would have extended high-tech tax incentives through 2025, but it failed.  She now says this action by the legislature will force our state to prepare for more projects that were once looking hard at Washington for a home to go elsewhere in the coming months and years.

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