O’Cooper was followed by Steve DelBianco of NetChoice, a trade association, who is pushing for a tax incentive for data centers. “They deserve the same tax treatment that you’ve always allowed under the production equipment that goes into mining, ranching and farming,” he said. He contended that extending Idaho’s production exemption from sales taxes to billion-dollar data centers “costs you nothing” because no major data centers have located in the state thus far. Contradicting the previous speaker, he said, “Absent these exemptions, these hyper-scale data centers will not come to Idaho. … If Idaho does not offer it, these businesses will very likely locate elsewhere.”
Less than a decade later, Loudoun County, Virginia has become the data center capital of the world, said Comstock, who is now an adviser for the NetChoice lobbying group. Property taxes, income taxes and other revenues related to the centers have been a “cash cow” for her region, she told legislators.
Steve DelBianco, CEO of NetChoice, a Virginia-based trade association of online and tech businesses, testified Thursday at the committee meeting on behalf of the data center market. He says that large data centers won’t even consider opening up shop in Michigan until there is data center-friendly legislation.
“We encourage Michigan, in this respect, to accommodate this view toward data centers that will either be here or not be here. And that hinges on whether or not the state recognizes the production equipment of a data center is production equipment that should qualify for sales tax exemptions,” DelBianco testified to the committee. “Over the last five years, not a single large enterprise data center is located in a state that has imposed its full sales tax on the data center servers.”