Legislation to attract jobs to rural Washington passes House

Grant County lawmakers support bill to encourage private-sector job growth


Legislation passed the state House of Representatives yesterday to help attract high-tech data centers to rural counties, bringing badly needed construction and maintenance jobs to areas of the state with high unemployment rates.

Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6789 will create a sales and use tax exemption for certain server equipment and power infrastructure needed for computer data centers.

Twelfth District lawmakers Cary Condotta and Mike Armstrong, as well as 13th District lawmakers Bill Hinkle and Judy Warnick, cosponsored a companion bill in the House.

They said it was an example of how Democrats and Republicans can work together to help bring private-sector investment and jobs to Washington state. The legislators said they hoped the measure would keep companies like Yahoo and Microsoft providing jobs in Grant County, currently suffering from 13.6 percent unemployment.

“This is government getting out of the way and letting the private-sector create jobs – something we need to do more of,” said Hinkle, R-Cle Elum.  “This is the type of thing, the type of creativity, that I’d hoped we could do more of at the beginning of session.  If we had adopted this type of approach to our overall budget problem, the Democrats wouldn’t have needed to call a special session at a cost of over $18,000 per day in order to figure out which taxes to raise.”

“I was excited when the server farms first came to our region,” said Warnick, R-Moses Lake. “They are a good mix with the agriculture industry that we all depend on. They provide good jobs and help rural areas like ours to maintain our economy and culture. In return, we provide them with affordable and abundant hydroelectric power from the Columbia River, available fiber optic lines and reasonable land prices. There is much to gain from both sides in this relationship.”

“This bill is all about jobs. We know from experience, having data centers built in both the 12th and 13th districts, that initially, between 600 to 1,000 construction jobs are created, lasting between 18 to 24 months. Then, of course, there are the long-term jobs created as people are employed to operate these data centers. This also generates an astounding amount of revenue for local governments,” said Armstrong, R-Wenatchee. “So it’s a winning combination, because it puts people back to work. As many as four data centers are ready to be built. Every job created in our state is another step closer to economic recovery in Washington. So we welcome this legislation and the jobs it will create.”

“These companies are critical not only for the jobs they create, but also for the tax base that is needed to pay for emergency services and other needs in our part of the state,” said Condotta, R-East Wenatchee. “This incentive will build stronger communities and schools in rural areas. I am so glad we decided to get back in the competition for these very valuable assets.”

The 2010 special session began March 15 and could last up to 30 days.



Brendon Wold, senior information officer, (360) 786-7698


Washington State House Republican Communications