Pennsylvania officials are seeking to convice New York financial firms to locate disaster recovery facilities in a proposed data center park in the state’s northeastern corner dubbed Wall Street West. On Monday representatives from about 15 financial services firms met in Monroe County, Pa. to hear the pitch: affordability, incentives and a location that meets federal regulators’ mandate for out-of-region backup data centers.
A proposed 300,000 square foot first phase, known as the Penn Regional Business Center, is scheduled to break ground in Monroe County in June 2007, according to local media. The developer, Larry Simon, noted that it’s not a speculative project, but a build-to-suit development contingent on a tenant being signed. Simon says he is confident an anchor tenant will emerge shortly. “I don’t see anything that would stop me from meeting that ground-breaking timetable,” Simon told the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader.
The Wall Street West initiative is backed by a $15 million investment from the federal government and more than $6 million from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Local and state officials believe they can build a successul project atop data backup mandates from the Federal Reserve, SEC and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terroist attacks, regulators tasked the financial services industry to develop a backup plan that would allow for a same-day recovery from a “regional disaster” affecting New York and its immediate suburbs.
The plan called for backup centers to be located outside the New York metro area, a request that met with resistance from many Wall Street firms with huge investments in secondary data centers in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Northern New Jersey. The Wall Street West initiative offers the right geography – more than 60 miles from New York and thus outside any blast radius, but within the 125-mile distance that marks the outer limits of many real-time data mirroring technologies.
Simon has announced his intention to build up to 5 million square feet of office space tailored to the needs of financial services companies. Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP) was a partner in the initial grant writing proposal and will serve as the program’s designated fiscal agent. “We will focus on building a broadband infrastructure between New York City and northeastern Pennsylvania, as well as creating a talent pool of workers with skills for the financial services industry,” says Chad Paul, Chief Executive Officer of BFTP Northeast.