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Microsoft to invest $1B to build data centers in Catawba County

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CATAWBA COUNTY, NC — Microsoft officials said Wednesday it is investing at least $1 billion for the phased development of four data centers in Catawba County over the next 10 years.

The data centers will be in Conover, Hickory and Maiden, county officials said.

Those include tracks of land along Tate Boulevard in Hickory, behind the Walmart in Conover, along Stover Court in Newton and 300 acres along Zeb Haynes Road west of Maiden.

Microsoft will be getting tax breaks from both the county and the three cities in the form of 10 years of economic development grants.

Those grants will be associated with the company spending $1 billion in Catawba County over 10 years.

Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, people who live in the area have speculated it could be a company like Microsoft or Google.

Hickory city leaders stayed tight-lipped about the announcement, because they’ve signed nondisclosure agreements but did say it’s big for Catawba County.

However, that news isn’t what many of the residents who live nearby wanted to hear.

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“I think it’s going to cause a lot of traffic and probably a lot of confusion, so I’m just not thrilled about the whole thing,” said resident Lynn Wentz.

During a recent Maiden Town Council meeting, city leaders hinted the project may be a large data center.

Apple has had a data center in Maiden since 2009 that employs hundreds of people after the company invested nearly $3 billion in Catawba County.

It generates nearly $2 million in taxes each year for the town.

The town manager said since the company has been there, Maiden has built a new police department, fire department and town hall.

Bill Castell lives down the street from the new project and has mixed feelings about a data center. He believes it will help the town.

“You look at the positive impact that Apple has had on the city of Maiden and it’s pretty incredible,” Castell said. “Hopefully, when this goes in, it will be a positive impact as well.”

Maiden has also been able to lower taxes twice for its 3,700 residents since Apple has been in town, the town manager said.

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