ELK RIVER -- Calling it an "exciting" project, the Sherburne County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a 20-year tax abatement request by Google.

If the tech company goes forward with building a $600 million data center in Becker, the county will waive about $390,000 in property taxes for 20 years, which is about $7.8 million over that span. Officials with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development say the facility is projected to have a $7.5 million annual economic impact to the county's GDP.

Commissioner Felix Schmiesing says "it's a huge abatement, but it's filled with opportunities", and Commissioner Tim Dolan says "it is inspiring the way the area has rallied around the project".

Becker Mayor Tracy Bertram says it is good to have the support of the county officials.

They've been a wonderful partner on this whole project from the start of it, so just to hear them echo the wonderful partnership that we have together with the city and county we piggyback on meetings together and compile data together so it really helps.

NEXT STEPS; 
The Becker City Council is expected to vote on Google's tax abatement request for the city's portion of their property taxes at their next meeting on Tuesday, which would be about $312,000 a year, or about $6.2 million over the 20 years.

Local lawmakers have introduced bills in both the house and the senate for $20 million in state funding for infrastructure improvements.

In addition, Xcel Energy has a petition in to the Public Utilities Commission to serve electricity to the site and they've asked for a review and vote on their proposal by the end of June.  One-hundred percent of the energy would come from wind farms in the Dakotas.

Google is considering buying about 300 acres of land that is currently owned by Xcel Energy adjacent to their Sherco property.

The proposed 375,000 square foot data center, when fully operational, would create at least 50 new jobs with an annual average income of $80,000 a year.

City and county officials are trying to bring in new jobs ahead of the planned closings of the Sherco 1 and 2 coal-fired power plants, which will result in the direct loss of 150 jobs.

Sherburne County Government Center, photo by WJON.com's Jim Maurice

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