Google's continuing expansion of its infrastructure is raising awareness of the economic development benefits of large data center projects. Understanding the unique needs of data center operators is critical in attracting these development projects. Regional economic development agencies have been refining their pitches for data center development. And they're not alone.
Blogger Ed Kohler has clearly studied Google's playbook. In a post on the Technology Evangelist blog, Kohler presses all the right buttons in making an unusual pitch for Google to locate a major data center at a site in St. Paul, Minnesota. Ford's Twin Cities Assembly Plant, which will be closing in 2008, possesses many of the attributes that companies like Google seek in their data center site selection process. Ed documents the site's features one by one in a pitch that is unusual only because it's coming from a blog.
I'm not sure whether the Twin Cities were on Google's radar prior to Ed's blog item. But even if Google isn't interested, the pitch could attract the attention of some of the many companies in the midst of a data center site location project. There are drawbacks that aren't highlighted in the blog item, such as potential environmental problems at the Ford site, which would complicate efforts for redevelopment. There's also the fact that many companies scouting sites for major data center projects prefer to build from the ground up rather than retrofitting an existing facility.
But what's clear is that the requirements for major data center projects are becoming better understood. Recent site location wins for San Antonio (Microsoft) and Lenoir, North Carolina (Google) will bring hundreds of millions of dollars into the local community. When even bloggers are making sophisticated pitches on behalf of their community, it's clear that the competition for major data center projects is just heating up.