Wall Street West Gets Level 3 Link

Level 3 will build a fiber network to support Pennsylvania's Wall Street West intiiative.

The Wall Street West project has been working hard to convince New York financial services firms to back up their data in Eastern Pennsylvania. That task will be made easier by last week's announcement that Level 3 has been hired to build a high-speed fiber network between lower Manhattan and East Stroudsburg, Pa. The $40 million project will be backed by $15 million in state funds and the remainder from "federal and private investments." According to one account, the deal includes an $8 million commitment from Level 3 (LVLT) in exchange for being the exclusive connectivity provider for Wall Street West.

Wall Street West is a partnership of more then two dozen organizations and agencies working to promote northeastern Pennsylvania as a destination for backup data centers for Wall Street firms. Thus far the initiative has attracted one company, which will create 10 jobs.

The fiber network is key to the real-time backup requirements of financial services firms, and thus is a critical hurdle for Wall Street West. But it may be two years before the first hookups are available. Jeffrey Allen, vice president of management for Level 3, told the Pocono Record that construction will begin on the 600-mile fiber-optic line within the next 12 months and be completed 12 months later.

That could be an issue for developer Larry Simon, who plans to break ground next month on the Penn Regional Business Center, a $125 million, 300,000-square-foot building in Minisink Hills, and hopes to complete the project in 18 months. Simon says he expects to have four major leases signed within the next six to eight months that will create approximately 5,000 jobs and involve 750,000 square feet of building space.

"It's all back-up operations, both data and personnel," Simon told the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader. "They are all major financial institutions, trading and clearing houses as well as back-up office space."

The new network will run from Manhattan to East Stroudsburg, with a separate line branching off in Warren County, N.J. and extending to Easton, Pa. Level 3 will then build the network connections from East Stroudsburg system to local backup centers.