A key lawmaker says it’s more than just Google that may benefit from a bill making its way through the Iowa Legislature. The bill establishes new tax breaks for a "web portal company" interested in building a new facility here. Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, is among those crafting a few changes in the bill to ensure companies that are already here get the same benefit if they expand.
"We felt that it’s important if we have Iowa-based companies right now, and they want to expand, that they have an opportunity to get some incentives also," Dotzler says. According to Dotzler, the trend now is away from having a computer with all the bells and whistles — the software programs — and toward "server farms" which give computer users access to a wide variety of options they’d be hard-pressed to store on a single computer.
"YouTube is a perfect example of that where they have all that stuff sitting in servers and you can access it instantaneously," Dotzler says. The bill Iowa lawmakers are crafting would erase state sales taxes on the electricity used in such "server farms" and Dotzler says that would amount to a huge savings for a company like Google.
"Really, the biggest problem with these server farms is the heat that’s generated in them. Just one server panel generates the equivalent of a seven-foot-high pile of toaster ovens, so can you imagine the amount of heat?" Dotzler asks. Apparently Google isn’t the only major technology company interested in Iowa as a spot to expand. Dotzler won’t say which one, only that there is another.
"It’s my understanding that there’s another major technology company that is interested in getting in the server farm business. They’re more into computers and programs of computers," Dotzler says. "We’re just starting to see the tip of the iceberg." The Iowa House has already endorsed the bill with state tax breaks for a company like Google, but the House will have to consider the changes Dotzler and other Senators are proposing.