IBM receives $2.5M in tax breaks to bring Watson to Massachusetts

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Massachusetts is granting IBM a multimillion dollar tax break to bring IBM Watson Health to a digital and technology hotspot in Cambridge, according to a Boston Globe report.

The administration of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) granted IBM $2.5 million over three years, as the technology giant plans to sublease 160,000 square feet of space in Kendall Square, which the Globe describes as "one of the hottest office markets in the country, with technology and biotech giants jockeying to land outposts and bring jobs there."

IBM in turn said it will create at least 500 new jobs, adding 125 a year from 2016 through 2019, according to the report. However, IBM will have to reimburse the state if fewer than 90 percent of those jobs are created. The Globe reports IBM plans to pay workers at the new office an average of $141,000 a year.

Gov. Baker and Jay Ash, secretary of housing and economic development, want to boost Massachusetts' position in the digital health industry and build on top of its strengths in the IT, healthcare and biotech sectors, according to the report. "In enabling this expansion to take place, we're putting a stake in the ground on digital healthcare and saying we believe this is an area of tremendous growth for the state," Paul McMorrow, Mr. Ash's policy director, told the Boston Globe.

IBM had to apply for the tax incentive, and in the application the company said it plans to invest $51.3 million in construction and $5.9 million in equipment at the new office. Other companies have applied for, and received, similar tax break incentives, one of which was Watertown, Mass.-based athenahealth, which received a $9.3 million tax break in 2013 to add 1,900 workers by 2022.

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