Microsoft plans to build a $1 billion data center campus in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin.

The company will develop on a 315-acre parcel of mostly vacant land owned by the Village of Mount Pleasant, which is part of the wider 2,500-acre plot that was set aside for a Foxconn manufacturing hub.

Foxconn Globe Wisconsin.jpg
Foxconn's globe data center – Bryan Albrecht via Twitter

The new project was announced by the Village of Mount Pleasant, Racine County, Racine County Economic Development Corporation, and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation following a closed session meeting.

“Our first commitment is always to local taxpayers,” Claude Lois, Foxconn's project manager hired by Mount Pleasant, said. “That will be the case as we move forward with Microsoft.”

The village board will vote on the proposal at the Area III land parcel this Thursday (30 March) and the Racine County Board will vote on it on April 11 and 18.

“Microsoft was attracted to this location because it is primed for development,” village president Dave DeGroot told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Through local investments, we have transformed this area of Mount Pleasant and equipped it with the infrastructure necessary to support a major investment by Microsoft.”

The proposal comes a week before a crucial election for the Mount Pleasant village board, where critics are trying to oust members due to the failure of the Foxconn project to meet its ambitious goals.

The Sentinel reports that village board critic Kelly Gallaher appeared open to still supporting the Microsoft data center if she was to win. "Our position is if there is someone out there interested, they might want to have talks with us," she said.

"Dave DeGroot has had five years, we're the ones that are going to make this happen. They've lost plenty of opportunities. Any opportunity that comes our way will get done. We're the team to pursue and do it."

Five years ago, former President Donald Trump and then-Gov. Scott Walker announced that the Taiwanese manufacturer would build flat screens and other consumer electronics in a complex of factories costing $10 billion, and would eventually employ up to 13,000 people.

Trump called the project the "eighth wonder of the world," while Scott Walker signed off on up to $4.8 billion in tax breaks - the largest subsidy ever given to a foreign company by the US - working out to about $370,000 per job, or $1,774 per Wisconsin household.

The town also offered $763 million to help pay for the project, while Racine County gave Foxconn $50 million to acquire the land.

Plans changed soon after the groundbreaking ceremony, with Foxconn scaling back its ambitions. It said it would build a smaller factory and an "ecosystem of AI 8K+5G" tech, primarily built by robots. At one point, it considered everything from fish farming to exporting dairy, to renting storage space.

It also promised to build a number of "innovation centers" across the state, but investigations by The Verge found that the buildings the company acquired were left empty for more than a year.

In 2020, it pivoted to building some servers for Google data centers as well as networking gear for Cisco at the site. The next year it opened a small, globe-shaped data center at the site.

Its tax breaks were slashed as it failed to bring in the jobs it had promised. It now aims to employ 1,454 people and invest $676 million by 2026, for $80 million in tax breaks.

"As a result of Foxconn’s presence, Mount Pleasant has undergone a transformation of infrastructure that continues to support potential business cases for additional Foxconn production," Foxconn said in a statement.

"In Wisconsin, Foxconn has invested over $1 billion, manufactures data servers for tier-1 customers, remains committed to driving its ongoing business operations and committed to finding new opportunities in response to market demand.”

Get a weekly roundup of North America news, direct to your inbox.