The Columbus City Council has voted in favor of a generous tax break for a proposed Google data center in Ohio.
The council voted 6-to-1 to approve more than $54 million in tax breaks for Google, in return for an expected 20 full-time jobs.
Google proposed the $300 million, 150,000 square foot (14,000 sq m) data center earlier this year. At the time, it operated through the shell company Magellan Enterprises LLC, hiding its identity as it negotiated the tax breaks.
“Without the availability of the tax abatement, the site will not be a competitive location for the proposed project,” attorney Scott Ziance said on behalf of Magellan in a proposal.
Google will not pay property taxes on the site for 15 years, resulting in projected savings of $54,335,376, according to a projected tax breakdown from the city, shared with NBC4 Investigates.
Over the same 15 years, those jobs are expected to lead to $750,000 in income tax revenue.
The large tax break in return for a comparatively small number of jobs was initially met with skepticism by local politicians. “20 jobs for a $54 million (!!!!!!) tax benefit. I don’t understand,” Columbus City Council president pro tem Elizabeth Brown said in an email to a staffer a little under two weeks before she voted in favor of the project.
She told NBC4i: “Yeah, I had a lot of questions... One of the things that was really important to me, was not just the sort of jobs created by the company locating there, but the jobs created by the project itself.
"I learned that there would be there will be 300 to 500 prevailing wage construction jobs. So these are really good, really middle-class jobs.”
The facility, set to open in late 2025, will be built on the site of a former snake oil farm.
Hartman’s farm was once the largest operating farm in the US, where owner Doctor Samuel B. Hartman grew grapes for his ‘miracle cure' medicine known as Peruna during the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was also used as a dairy farm, and Native American burial mounds have also been discovered on the site.
One of many ‘patent medicines’ in the market at the time, Peruna was marketed as a cure and prevention against catarrhal disease (congestion). In 1902, Doctor Hartman claimed that half of the human illnesses are catarrh in nature, and that Peruna cures all forms of catarrh.
The data center is near Google's New Albany campus, which recently received a $1bn expansion. The company has also acquired land in Lancaster, Ohio.