Microsoft could expand its Fargo-based campus as early as 2015, but a company official says that immigration reform is paramount to growing the company.
Site leader Don Morton told The Forum (http://bit.ly/15pIx6F ) that the computer giant's local branch, which has about 1,800 workers, is running near 100 percent capacity in its three buildings. With significant growth projected in the future, Microsoft may consider adding two new buildings to the campus, he said.
"We know our buildings are full now, and so we have to go out into the lease market, which we are exploring," Morton said. "And we also know in the long run, it's better business to build your own rather than to lease."
The numbers of employees at the Microsoft campus now is double the workforce at Great Plains Software before it was acquired by Microsoft in 2001. Morton said the company's long-term plan calls for 2,700 people to work at the Fargo campus.
Morton said a clearer path to citizenship for workers is necessary for expansion.
"We don't create enough engineers in our country, so immigration reform is critical to our future growth," he said.
The Fargo campus has a "fairly significant workforce" of foreign nationals who are currently working on visas, Morton said.
Craig Whitney, president and CEO of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce, said he would be a "champion and advocate" for an expansion of Microsoft.
"Having them here is a very, very positive thing for the city and the region," Whitney said.
Data from the 2011 Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corp. shows Microsoft is already the largest technology employer in the area.