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Microsoft applies to expand at Quincy

City receives proposals for three new parcels

One month after Washington state lawmakers gave a sales tax break to data centers, Microsoft has begun seeking an expansion of its giant data storage center in rural Grant County.

In 2006 the technology company, based in Redmond, Wash., built the 500,000-square foot center on 75 acres of land it bought from the Port of Quincy. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo built a large data center close by.

Both companies halted expansion plans after Washington officials refused to grant a sales tax exemption to them.

But with the new law going into effect in April, Microsoft wasted no time. A data center is a massive collection of computer servers that manage and store data for corporate, institutional and individual customers.

Tim Snead, Quincy’s city administrator, said Microsoft just submitted applications for three new parcels, each for structures ranging from 40,000 to 60,000 square feet.

The new exemption only applies if the expansion exceeds 100,000 square feet.

Curt Morris, president of the Quincy port district, said he’s heard rumors that Yahoo may do something similar. “But I’ve heard only rumors,” he said.

He said the tax change created more interest in Grant County’s site advantages: low-price electricity, available land and infrequent disruptions from natural disasters. Morris said he’s shown land to three potential new data center managers in the last two weeks. He would not identify them.