SC Approves Tax Breaks for New Google Site

Local officials in Richland County, South Carolina have approved a package of tax breaks for Google, clearing the way for the search company to announce a new data center project in Blythewood, South Carolina, perhaps as soon as next month. Google purchased 466 acres in Blythewood in October, and is evaluating the site for a major data center project.

The Richland County Council last night approved a tax incentive package in which Google will pay a yearly fee of $3.1 million in lieu of property taxes on the Blythewood land, according to WIS-TV in Columbia. County Council chairman Joseph McEachern says he expects to get a decision from Google in a matter of weeks. “We should know something prior to our first meeting in January,” McEachern told The State. That council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 8. Google officials have said that no decision would be made on the Blythewood site in 2007.

If Google green-lights the Blythewood project, it would be the company’s second huge data center in South Carolina. In April Google (GOOG) announced a $600 million data center in Goose Creek, South Carolina. Blythewood, a suburb of Columbia, is about 120 miles northwest of Google’s Goose Creek project.

Matt Dunne, a Google spokesman, told The State that the company is also is negotiating tax breaks with the South Carolina Department of Commerce for the Blythewood site. The state legislature has also previously extended to data centers a sales tax exemption for electricity that has applied to manufacturers for decades. That tax break would apply automatically to Richland County if Google proceeds there.

A similar tax break for data centers has sparked debate in Washington State, where attorney general Rob McKenna ruled that data centers don’t qualify as manufacturing facilities. As a result, new data centers may have to pay a 7.9 percent tax on costs for construction and equipment. The ruling has prompted Yahoo to rethink future investment plans for its new data center campus in Quincy, Washington.

County Councilman Damon Jeter and County Administrator Milton Pope told WIS-TV that Google is expected to spend $600 million in Richland County, and that the project would create at least 200 new jobs.

The Google facility at Goose Creek is located on a 520-acre site at the Mount Holly Commerce Park, and will create 200 jobs paying an average salary of $48,000 per year. This year Google has also announced data center projects in Lenoir, North Carolina; Pryor, Oklahoma and Council Bluffs, Iowa. Google expects to spend $600 million in each location.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.