Microsoft to Invest $3.3 Billion in Building New AI Data Center

This week Microsoft announced plans to help establish Southeast Wisconsin “as a hub for AI-powered economic activity, innovation, and job creation,” according to the company’s press release. As part of the broad investment package, the tech giant is planning “$3.3 billion in cloud computing and AI infrastructure, the creation of the country’s first manufacturing-focused AI co-innovation lab, and an AI skilling initiative to equip more than 100,000 of the state’s residents with essential AI skills.” Microsoft’s new data center campus will replace the failed $10 billion Foxconn LCD manufacturing center planned for Mount Pleasant, situated in Racine County.

“This is the site that was championed by Donald Trump, when he was U.S. president,” as a step in building “high-tech assembly lines on [the country’s] home soil,” notes The Register. “But after years of delays, Foxconn pulled out.”

This presented an opportunity for current President Joe Biden, who joined Microsoft President Brad Smith at Gateway Technical College for the announcement, which Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers described as a “watershed moment” for the state.

Biden’s “Executive Order on AI directed new protections for workers, including the release of guidance to assist federal contractors and employers with complying with worker protection laws as they deploy AI in the workplace,” explains the White House fact sheet.

“As part of Microsoft’s efforts to build an AI ecosystem in Wisconsin, their training programs will help introduce workers to AI skills and technologies, helping them access and benefit from the AI economy.”

“Wisconsin has a rich and storied legacy of innovation and ingenuity in manufacturing,” said Smith. “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. This is what a big company can do to build a strong foundation for every medium, small and startup company and non-profit everywhere.”

“The data center in Wisconsin follows a slew of hefty investments in AI that the Seattle-based firm has committed to globally,” SiliconANGLE writes. “From the countries of Southeast Asia to the promise of making London an AI hub, Microsoft is spending billions of dollars while potentially creating tens of thousands of new jobs in the next few years and preparing today’s youth for the future workplace.”

Microsoft “expects to create 2,300 union construction jobs by 2025 and 2,000 permanent jobs over the course of the development” in Wisconsin, reports The Register.

Microsoft to Invest Over $3 Billion to Build AI in Wisconsin, The Wall Street Journal, 5/8/24
Microsoft Takes Over Troubled Foxconn Wisconsin Site with New AI Data Center, PCMag, 5/8/24

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