Two more data centers for Quincy?
Seattle Times technology reporter
At least two more data-center developers are prospecting in Quincy, Grant County, where Internet giants Microsoft and Yahoo have already blazed a trail.
Base Partners, a San Francisco company that builds huge, power-hungry warehouses packed with computer servers, plans a 100,000-square-foot data center — the first part of a development potentially four times that size — in the Central Washington agricultural community.
In the other development, Seattle-based developer Sabey is purchasing 39 acres from the Port of Quincy and plans to build a data center, confirmed a port official, who added that the deal has not been completed. Last fall, Sabey paid $2.4 million for 30 acres in Douglas County, where it's developing another data center. Sabey official John Ford said only: "We're looking at some additional land in Eastern Washington."
These projects would be in addition to approximately 2 million square feet of new data centers already in planning, under construction or up and running in Quincy, City Administrator Tim Snead said.
The city and the broader region offer low-cost hydroelectric power, plentiful land and major fiber-optic lines to connect the data centers — which run Internet sites and other network services — to the rest of the world.
Snead said Quincy has seen an enormous increase in sales-tax revenue from the construction boom.
"The restaurants, businesses in town, their business is up and even the locals are happy to see the Quincy economy diversifying," Snead said.
Microsoft turned on its data center in April and was the first company to do so. Yahoo is nearing completion of the first part of its project and has purchased an additional 20 acres, Snead said. Workers are laying the foundations of a data center for Intuit, the personal finance and tax accounting software maker.
The construction jobs are more numerous than the permanent work force will be. Microsoft will have fewer than 40 employees to start, for example.
Snead said the city hopes new ancillary businesses such as electricians and security specialists will create additional permanent jobs.
"What we're hoping to see with these data centers coming in is maybe six or seven small businesses opening up to serve these facilities," he said.
Aaron Wangenheim, president of Base Partners, said his company has been talking to several prospective tenants for its data center. The first phase of the project will be built on spec, he added, and should be completed within a year. (Snead said the project has yet to receive city permits.)
Wangenheim said Microsoft and Yahoo have been "trail blazers" in Quincy, helping to smooth out what he called "infrastructure issues."
"Yeah, there's a lot of power and yes, it's cheap, but delivery to the sites is still difficult," he said, adding that water and sewer delivery is another challenge. "Those guys mitigated the risk for us."
Quincy's Snead said the city is working with all of the companies to handle the water requirements of the air-conditioning systems needed to keep the computers cool.
Benjamin J. Romano: 206-464-2149 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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