Microsoft announces $3.3bn Wisconsin AI investment  


The move is Microsoft’s latest in a string of at investments aimed at expanding cloud computing and AI infrastructure 

This week, Microsoft has been joined by US President Joe Biden to announce plans to build a $3.3 billion data centre in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin. The data centre will enable companies in Wisconsin and surrounding areas to develop, deploy, and use advanced cloud services and AI applications. 

Speaking at Gateway Technical College, Wisconsin, President Biden – who was joined by Microsoft President Brad Smith – announced that the investment will include cloud computing and AI infrastructure, the creation of the country’s first manufacturing-focused AI co-innovation lab, and an initiative to teach AI skills to 100,000 state residents. 

Microsoft will also work with Gateway Technical College to build a Data Center Academy that will train up around 1,000 students to work at the new data centre and related jobs within the next five years. 

The data centre investment, which will take place from now until 2026, is expected to create around 2,500 construction jobs by next year. 

“We will use the power of AI to help advance the next generation of manufacturing companies, skills and jobs in Wisconsin and across the country,” said Smith. 

“This is what a big company can do to build a strong foundation for every medium, small and start-up company and non-profit everywhere,” he continued. 

The facility is set to be built in the same location that Presidential rival Donald Trump once announced a similar investment. Back in 2017, Taiwanese multinational electronics manufacturing company Foxconn Technology announced plans to build a $10 billion 20-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Mount Pleasant.  

The project was expected to create 13,000 jobs and the state legislature passed a $3 billion tax incentive package to support the project, which included $150 million in tax breaks for the company. 

Despite these large promises, however, the investment plans have diminished significantly. The original $10 billion investment has dwindled to $672.8 million, while the job creation target has decreased from 13,000 statewide to just 1,454, and the incentive package reduced to $80 million. 

“My predecessor made promises, which he broke,” said President Biden at the Microsoft announcement. “On my watch, we make promises and we keep promises.” 

Microsoft has been making continual investments in the AI and data centre space for some time in both domestic and international markets, aiming to keep ahead of rivals such as AWS and Google.  

Earlier last week, for example, Microsoft partnered with asset management company Brookfield to invest $10 billion in renewable energy to supply their data centre assets. The agreement is the first of its kind and is almost eight times larger than the largest single corporate power purchase agreement ever signed. 

Additionally, last month, the company unveiled an AI hub in London, following Microsoft’s 2023 pledge to invest £2.5 billion over the next three years to expand its UK data centre infrastructure.  

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