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Facebook deal gives Morgan $375,000

Tia Lynn Ivey News

As Facebook is setting up shop in Stanton Springs for the multibillion-dollar company’s newest state-of-the-art data center, Morgan County is set to receive a big chunk of change from the $15 million land sale to the largest social media site in the world. Facebook’s development plans for the site at Stanton Springs is an historic deal with a hefty price tag of up to $42 billion.

Morgan is poised to receive an initial $375,000—a 15 percent share of the $2.5 million the Joint Development Authority (JDA) voted to distribute among the four counties tasked with overseeing the development of Stanton Springs: Morgan, Jasper, Walton and Newton.

“This just the beginning,” said Andy Ainslie, who sits on the JDA and the Morgan County Board of Commissioners. “We are starting to see the pay-off from Stanton Springs, a 20-year investment put in place by this board and there’s so much more to come.”

In the long-term, the JDA is estimated to take in $88 million in PILOT payments (payments in lieu of taxes) from Facebook over the course of two decades. Morgan’s share from that is $13.2 million. The JDA will also start bringing in tax revenue from Shire, the $1.2 billion biopharmaceutical plant in Stanton Springs, by 2020.

“Everything is lining up and we are looking forward to completing some future projects at Stanton Springs to get the rest of the land ready to sell off,” said Ainslie. According to the JDA, there is about 500 acres left in Stanton Springs to sell. The JDA is currently applying for grants and researching funding options, as well as cost analyses, to extend the parkway to make the remaining land more viable to interested industries.

Morgan County expects to receive the $375,000 by the August regular meeting and will discuss how best to use the funds. Chief Finance Officer Lori Sayer anticipates the county will either use the money to increase its “rainy day” fund (fund balance) or complete sorely overdue capital improvement projects such as replacing the county administration building’s roof or install upgrades to the county pool.

The JDA unanimously voted to distribute the $2.5 million dollars between the four counties at the June 24 regular meeting. Chairman Alan Verner was not present for the vote, but believes the money will help each of the counties.

“I think it’s a great thing for the counties,” said Verner. “It’s good for the counties to receive this money and have another source of revenue to help fill the voids where it can.”

According Verner, the future of Stanton Springs is looking brighter.

“We have some promising prospects with new businesses interested in the land,” said Verner. “We are working on grants and funding support for the extension, but we wont know until later on in the summer how we stand with those funding possibilities for the parkway.”

Right now, JDA leaders are thrilled to see Shire receive FDA approval for “GAMMAGARD Liquid,” a medication treating humoral immunodeficiency diseases by infusing patients with immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies, which protect the body from various infections. The FDA approval will allow the company to move full steam ahead, adding more jobs and to start paying tax revenue to the four counties. Facebook’s new data center, which will use an introductory $750 million investment, could require as much as a $42 billion investment over the course of a five-phase, two-decade-long development plan. Facebook has pledged to only use 100 percent clean and renewable energy at all new facilities.

“We are finally seeing the vision created 20 years ago from Stanton Springs become a reality,” said Ainslie.

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