After news broke that data storage giant Switch was looking to buy the old Steelcase pyramid building, and bring with it 1,000 jobs to the area within 10 years, the excitement permeated throughout not only West Michigan, but the entire state! One of the giants in the data storage industry, the Google of data storage if you will, was looking to make a home right here in West Michigan. A whole new industry looking to establish roots in the Great Lakes State.
However, things never go as smoothly as planned. Switch had one holdup before they were willing to make a home in Gaines Township, a tax break for data storage centers. After breaking a stalemate in the House late on Tuesday, the Senate signed off on the bills exempting data centers from sales and use taxes through 2035 if the industry meets job creation goals.
The bills are now waiting for Governor Rick Snyder’s signature to be put into effect.
While the tax breaks were requested by Switch, they apply to all data centers in the state. The tax exemptions end if the collective data center industry doesn’t create at least 400 new jobs by 2022 and 1,000 new jobs by 2026.
Switch will move into the pyramid building at 4100 60th St. SE, a building that has been vacant since 2010. The building was purchased back in May by Norman Properties LLC. The company plans to use the site to build a 2 million-square-foot “SuperNap” data center.
It’s not just the tech industry that will see an influx in West Michigan, but also local businesses buoyed by Switch’s capital and economic impact. The company has a planned an initial $400 million construction budget and anticipates spending over $2 billion over the next decade. That money and business will be used primarily on local subcontractors.
The jobs created, and pay-rolled by Switch, are sure to bring a jolt to the local economy as well. Minimum wage for SuperNap jobs start at $15 per hour, plus benefits. Salary for a majority of the data center jobs pays between $60,000 and $200,000.
For a company with clients that include eBay, Sony, Boeing, Google, and Amazon to choose West Michigan as a major host site is an exciting opportunity to some, but for Gaines Township Supervisor Don Hilton Sr. it’s business as usual.
“We’ve worked with many businesses before, and this one will be handled no differently. As of now, we haven’t received any requests from Switch,” stated Hilton who isn’t being caught up in the hoopla surrounding a new business coming into the area. When you’ve been on the job for 23 years like Hilton has, it’s all about the next step in the process.
With a new company also comes new employees who need a place to live. Gaines Township has vacant land available for real estate expansion and Hilton wouldn’t be surprised to see land developed as time goes forward.
“There are a lot of variables, but common sense says yes. With more people comes more demand for homes and real estate.”