(Posted Nov. 12, 2019)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Amazon Data Services Inc. is looking to build a data center along Industrial Parkway in Union County’s Jerome Township. The first phase calls for a $200 million, 250,000 square-foot facility. Future phases could increase that volume to 800,000 square feet.
“This is a substantial development–probably a top-five project when it comes to investment in our county,” said Eric Phillips, economic development director for Union County and the city of Marysville. “Anytime you’re talking in the hundreds of millions of dollars, you’re talking about the kind of development that doesn’t come around every day.”
Amazon is seeking approvals for a tax incentive package for the project. The first approval came on Nov. 11 when members of the Jonathan Alder Local Schools board of education voted unanimously in favor of the incentive structure.
The package includes an Enterprise Zone Agreement (EZA) between Union County and Amazon Data Services by which the company would receive a 100 percent tax abatement for 10 years on the first phase and on each of any additional improvements made in that time period. This type of incentive is called a “rolling” tax abatement.
The package also includes a donation agreement by which Amazon would make payments in lieu of taxes to the taxing authorities in the project area. The donations would amount to a total of $4 million over 10 years. Jonathan Alder Local Schools would receive $2.5 million in that time period. Tolles Career and Technical Center, Jerome Township, and Union County each would receive $500,000 in that time period.
The abatement would save Amazon an estimated $6 million in taxes for the first phase. Factoring in the $4 million the company would return to the community through the donation agreement, the company’s net savings for the first phase would be $2 million.
The company is looking at three possible sites: 111 acres at the southwest corner of Warner Road and Industrial Parkway, 125 acres at the northwest corner of Warner Road and Industrial Parkway, and 98 acres at 8619 Industrial Parkway.
At the Nov. 11 Jonathan Alder school board meeting, Tony Burkart, manager of economic development for Amazon Web Services, said the company plans to make site decisions by “the end of the calendar year.”
“We’re really excited about being here and look forward to working with you,” he told school board members.
Phillips and Burkart explained that in addition to the donation agreement, Amazon plans to partner with area schools to provide students with educational opportunities specific to data processing and other technical career pathways.
“We’re really trying to be a more proactive partner with our communities,” Burkart said.
Amazon has similar data centers in Dublin, Hilliard and New Albany.
“We’re excited about a partnership. That’s really, really important to us,” said Steve Votaw, Jonathan Alder school board president.
Before moving forward with the project, Amazon needs additional approvals for the tax incentive package. The Jerome Township trustees will vote on the EZA and donation agreement on Nov. 19. The Tolles school board will vote on the donation agreement on Nov. 21. The Union County commissioners will vote on the EZA and donation agreement on Nov. 26.
The initial 250,000 square-foot facility would create an estimated 75 jobs with an annual payroll of $3.75 million.