Apple chooses Iowa for $1.3 billion data center

By August 28, 2017

In building its next state-of-the-art data center in Iowa, Apple is joining tech giants Microsoft, Facebook and Google in turning the state into a networking and storage powerhouse.

Apple’s statement revealed that it will invest $1.375 billion into the construction of a 400,000 sq. ft data center in Waukee, east of Des Moines. The project is envisioned to be online in 2020, to run on 100% renewable energy from day one, and provide support for the Apple user experience across their spectrum of services.

Apple’s first step will be to purchase 2000 acres of land of a large area recently annexed by the city of Waukee for urban development along US Route 6. Next, a crew of 550 construction and operations workers will make the data center come true in the next few years. Once completed, the center will employ a permanent staff of over 50 workers.

The data center is expected to bring in significant revenue to the area: a typical data center brings $77.7 million in local wages, $243.5 million to the local economy, and $9.9 million in revenue for state and local governments during the construction stage. A more modest yet steady capital flow is typical thereafter. In addition, Apple will contribute close to $100 million to a Public Improvement Fund for the city of Waukee.

To make this happen the Iowa Economic Development Authority provided $207.8 million in tax breaks to secure the investment, Reuters reported. “[Apple’s] announcement further solidifies Iowa as a hub where innovation and technology flourish and demonstrates this is a place where world-class companies can thrive”, said Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

In neighboring West Des Moines, Microsoft has invested over $2 billion in two data centers. In May, Facebook completed a fourth data center within its Altoona campus; and Google recently expanded its massive $2.5 billion complex in Council Bluffs with a multi-story data center.

This will be Apple’s sixth data center in total and its first in the Midwest. Iowa is already home to several large-scale data centers, cementing the state’s reputation as a magnet for billion-dollar investments in data infrastructure. Tech giants are attracted by generous tax breaks, plenty of open spaces, low-cost wind-generated renewable energy and little chance of natural disasters.

The Midwest Silicon Prairie continues to cement its status as a business-friendly tech hub with Apple’s decision. Although tech entrepreneurship certainly has room to improve in Iowa, the big players in the industry agree that there is plenty of potential in the Hawkeye State.