Microsoft Pledges $3.3 Bn to Boost AI and Economic Growth in Wisconsin

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DateMay 10, 2024

Microsoft has unveiled a $3.3 billion initiative to enhance artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities and economic development in Southeast Wisconsin, marking a significant investment in cloud computing and AI infrastructure. This strategic move is set to position the region as a key player in AI-driven economic activities and job creation. The announcement was made in conjunction with a visit from President Joe Biden, who joined Microsoft President Brad Smith at Gateway Technical College to unveil the details of the investment.

The investment encompasses a multi-faceted approach aimed at bolstering the local and national economic landscape through advancements in technology and workforce development. Microsoft plans to inject $3.3 billion into the development of a state-of-the-art data center campus in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin by the end of 2026. This project is expected to generate approximately 2,300 union construction jobs by 2025, with further long-term employment opportunities anticipated as the facilities become operational.

Microsoft President Brad Smith highlighted the historical context and future aspirations of the investment, stating, “Wisconsin has a rich and storied legacy of innovation and ingenuity in manufacturing. 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 start-up company and nonprofit everywhere.”

The plan also includes the establishment of the country’s first manufacturing-focused AI Co-Innovation Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. This facility will serve as a collaborative space where Wisconsin manufacturers and other businesses can work alongside Microsoft’s AI experts to design and prototype AI and cloud solutions. The goal is to enhance their operational efficiencies and accelerate growth, with a target to assist 270 local companies by 2030, half of which are expected to be in the manufacturing sector.

AI Data Center Education

In addition to infrastructure and collaborative projects, Microsoftis focusing significantly on education and workforce development. A partnership with Gateway Technical College will give rise to a Data Center Academy aimed at training and certifying over 1,000 students within five years to support the burgeoning data center and broader IT sector jobs in the region.

Governor Tony Evers expressed his support for Microsoft’s choice and its implications for the state, saying, “This is a watershed moment for Wisconsin and a critical part of our work to build a 21st-century workforce and economy in the Badger State. Microsoft is a blue-chip corporation that recognizes the strength of Wisconsin’s workers, infrastructure, economy, and our quality of life. Microsoft has chosen to locate and invest here because they know the future is here in Wisconsin.”

Further educational initiatives include a substantial AI skilling program designed to train over 100,000 Wisconsinites in generative AI by 2030, in collaboration with United Way Wisconsin and United Way Racine. This initiative will focus on utilizing new applications like Microsoft Copilot to enhance productivity and creativity across various sectors.

Community engagement is also a key component of Microsoft’s strategy. The tech giant plans to invest in local education and youth employment programs in partnership with the Racine Unified School District and Racine County. These programs aim to expand access to STEM education for middle school-aged girls and provide summer employment opportunities for local youth, ensuring that the benefits of technological advancements are accessible to all community members.

The comprehensive nature of Microsoft’s investment not only underscores its commitment to fostering a robust AI ecosystem but also highlights its dedication to community development and social equity. This strategic initiative is poised to transform Southeastern Wisconsin into a leading hub for AI innovation and economic growth.

Microsoft booth

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