Data center tax breaks show rift over economic strategy

The old Steelcase pyramid in Gaines Township. (Nov. 16, 2015.)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A major Internet data center developer’s decision to expand into Michigan as long as it receives lucrative tax breaks is testing the economic development strategy of Gov. Rick Snyder, who has called them the “heroin drip of government.”

Lawmakers are rushing to ensure that Las Vegas-based Switch locates a mega-campus of computer servers near Grand Rapids.

The tax breaks would also apply to existing data centers.

Supporters say Michigan must compete with other states with specially tailored tax incentives for data centers.

But the budget ramifications concern opponents of the legislation, which has come under scrutiny for having no requirement that Switch meet minimum spending or hiring levels to qualify for the tax breaks.

Snyder says he wants assurances that the project “results in real jobs.”

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