What they’re saying: Apple data center investment a big win for Iowa
Following a joint announcement from Apple CEO Tim Cook, Gov. Kim Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Waukee Mayor Bill Peard on Thursday that the company will make a significant data center investment in Waukee, many are saying the center is a big win for the state.
The economic development board’s chairman, Chris Murray, said such projects bring people who build homes, generating tax revenue and causing other businesses to explore moving to Iowa.
“They say we should go to Iowa because we have these epicenters there. And as you look at the age demographics and the growth of Iowa, I think it’s really difficult to challenge the fact there are ancillary growth benefits from making an investment like this,” he said.
“Apple is going to continue to invest in that future, for Waukee, for Iowa and for America,” Cook said.
In addition to building the data center, Apple is giving up to $100 million to a public improvement fund that will support community projects and infrastructure needs in Waukee.
“This new data center will play a very important role in the App Store’s continued success. And as the App Store grows, we look forward to growing in Iowa,” Cook said.
Des Moines Register: Apple is the latest tech giant drawn to Iowa
“It’s a really positive thing for Iowa that these companies are putting their prized possessions in the hands of Iowa,” said Brian Waller, president of the Technology Association of Iowa. “I just think to have a fourth titan of the tech industry, and one you visibly hold in your hand or the majority of people hold in their hands, it’s just a great thing.”
Matthew Mitchell, an associate professor of international business and strategy at Drake University, said the incentives are part of doing business, and even with a tax break, the new center will have a huge economic impact.
“When I see the 71 percent abatement, I also think it’s about 29 percent revenues that didn’t exist the very previous day,” Mitchell said. “You have the prestige of doing business with one of the most successful companies in the world.”
“Across Iowa, businesses, schools, developers and government are coming together to build a new home for innovation in America’s heartland,” Cook said. “We see that commitment in Iowa’s education system and in the value that you place on creativity, adaptability and new ways of thinking….we admire what you guys have accomplished, and we want to be a part of it.”
Jay Byers, chief executive of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, said Thursday’s announcement continues to enhance Iowa’s status as the “silicon prairie” and will further build out the supply chain associated with these large data centers.
“It’s a huge win for our economy,” Byers said. “Central Iowa is now a global hub for data centers.”
Tech companies are attracted to Iowa because of the prominence of its renewable energy industry – Governor Reynolds said that 36.6 percent of Iowa’s electricity was generated by wind last year, and Cook said that the Waukee center, like its other U.S. data centers, would be powered using 100 percent renewable energy.
This isn’t a deal about workers, though. At least, not directly. At a time when government officials are partnering with companies to boost employment, Apple’s agreement with Iowa lawmakers highlights another reason states are courting businesses with colossal discounts: corporate investments can help rural communities afford to grow.