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State Senate approves huge tax breaks for data centers in Michigan

Drivers on the M-6 freeway near Grand Rapids can easily see Steelcase's huge pyramid building.
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 The state Senate has voted to give big tax breaks to data centers in an effort to lure a server farm to west Michigan and lay the groundwork for establishing the industry in the state.

The Las Vegas-based company Switch says the state must adopt the tax breaks before the end of the year or it will locate somewhere else. Switch is eyeing a massive data center project near Grand Rapids.

State Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, says the vote is a first step toward sparking a new industry in Michigan:

“I say this is kind of like a poker game. We’ve got to put the ante in to be able to compete. So we put the ante in and now we’re ready to compete.”

Republicans and Democrats are divided on the issue. Critics say it’s bad public policy to single out one industry for massive tax breaks. And they say the company should be required to meet job-creation targets to qualify.

The state House could vote on a similar package next week. 

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