The Regional Economic Development Inc. (REDI) of Columbia, Missouri said this week that it has hired Angelou Economics to evaluate the Columbia area for its potential to attract data centers. The Columbia REDI has provided Angelou with profiles of two undeveloped sites that the city believes could support data center projects, according to the Missourian newspaper (link via John Rath).
"We're seeing a number of data centers announced in locations in other states," said REDI President Bernie Andrews. Officials in Columbia, which is the home of the University of Missouri, are hoping the combination of a skilled workforce and the presence of a large research university will help the area attract high-tech jobs.
As we've seen in recent weeks, lots of small markets are seeking data center projects. But in many cases there are reasons why they don't already have them. Does Columbia make sense for data center site location? Columbia lies almost directly between Kansas City and St. Louis, two markets that have had success attracting mission-critical facilities.
Kansas City is home to data center facilities from Sprint, MasterCard, Liberty Lexis/Nexis, Ameritrade, Quality Technologies, IDC Global, 1&1 Internet, Cerner Corporation and many others. It has benefited from a strong availability of fiber and power, as well as a supportive local economic development community that was among the earliest second-tier cities to market its suitability for data centers.
The St. Louis area has two carrier hotels (the Bandwidth Exchange buildings) and the headquarters building for managed hosting provider Savvis, all of which were bought by Digital Realty Trust last month. Financial services providers Scottrade and DST Technologies also have major data centers in the St. Louis market.
The key question for REDI is this: If a company is considering data center sites in Missouri, what would make them choose Columbia over existing bandwidth-rich data center hubs in St. Louis and Kansas City? Angelou Economics will provide its answers to the group when it submits its report on Oct. 11.