Massachusetts Plans for $78M Data Center

The state of Massachusetts wants to build a new $78 million data center, but can't decide on a location.

Massachusetts wants to build a new data center, but can't decide on a location. More than $78 million in funding for a new state data center has been included in Gov. Deval L. Patrick's proposal for $2.5 billion in bonds for capital projects. The funding request has sparked jockeying among local legislators, who have differing ideas about the best site for the new data center.

While the decision about a Massachusetts state data center is in its early going - state legislators must still approve the funding - a similar proposal in New York State became a contentious poitical football.

Patrick didn't specify a community to host the proposed data center, saying only that it should be in Western Massachusetts. State Rep. Thomas Petrolati wants to amend the bill to specify that the data center be located at at Springfield Technical Community College. U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal is leading a group of municipal, business and civic leaders who favor the old Technical High School on Elliot Street in Springfield.

Petrolati said that broadband and other infrastructure is in place already at the college's Technology Park. Because of those factors, he said, it would save some money and make more sense to build the center at the college's technology park. The data center would probably include 25 to 50 new employees, is planned as a backup for a similar state center in Chelsea that stores important information on taxes, payroll and public safety.

In 2006, New York Gov. George Pataki proposed consolidating the state's data centers in the Utica area, creating 240 jobs in the region. The proposal was vigorously opposed by state workers' unions, who took out newspaper ads advocating that the IT infrastructure and jobs should remain in the Albany area. Pataki's successor, Gov. Elliot Spitzer, has not made a final decision but has suggested that the data center may not wind up in Utica.