The Potawatomi Business Development Corporation (PBDC)—the economic diversification arm of the Forest County Potawatomi—has unveiled plans for a new 45,000-sq-ft, multi-tenant wholesale data center known as Data Holdings, LLC.   The two-story center is part of the Forest County Potawatomi’s (FCP) effort to redevelop its 11-acre Concordia Trust Property site at the intersection of 33rd and State Streets in Milwaukee. PBDC expects to start construction on the $36 million data center this April with tenant occupancy targeted for the second quarter, 2013.

“As part of PBDC’s mission to diversify the tribes’ portfolio beyond gaming, we believe building and operating a data center is an attractive opportunity that will serve a growing and unmet need in the southeastern Wisconsin business community,” said Pepi Randolph, CEO of the Potawatomi Business Development Corporation. “Currently, there is not a data center in the area that has the level and scale of technology that we plan to provide. Our data center would be part of an intelligent approach to addressing the region’s IT needs that will help keep Milwaukee relevant, progressive, and attractive from an IT perspective. From an economic development standpoint, high-end infrastructure means high-end work and jobs. That’s good for everyone.”

Data Centers are specially constructed buildings with abundant amounts of electrical power and Internet bandwidth staffed by information technology (IT) specialists.  They are classified from Tiers I through IV, with IV being the most stringent. Existing data centers in the Milwaukee area are small colocation facilities with little to no wholesale space available.

The Data Holdings facility will be a wholesale, Tier III enhanced, carrier neutral data center. The center’s office space and dedicated data suites will offer tenants a cost-effective, flexible, secure and highly reliable IT facility for primary data center and secondary disaster recovery data center needs. Data Holdings will also support the technology infrastructure for the FCP’s Milwaukee-area business and tribal government operations.  

The PBDC has engaged TMI, one of the nation’s most experienced data center services companies, to design the Data Holdings center. Greenfire Management Services, a PBDC-subsidiary, will lead the construction, and NewAge Data Center Solutions, a TMI affiliate, will manage marketing, sales and operations.

PBDC conducted three separate feasibility studies to identify the market need and scope of available opportunity for a data center. The studies found the Concordia Trust Property site as an ideal location because of access to diverse power sources and multiple fiber carriers, each which provides the necessary redundancy and back up data center customers require. Additionally, the location poses no threats and vicinity risks that have the potential to disrupt power or connectivity, and as such jeopardize data access and integrity.

Dan McGrath, founder of TMI and co-founder/CEO of NewAge Data Solutions, has more than 30 years experience in the data center industry. He sees market possibilities beyond the Milwaukee area for Data Holdings.  

“Our proximity to Illinois will make this data center attractive to Chicago and Northern Illinois businesses.  Data Holdings’ comparative prices for power will also provide these companies with a top of the line wholesale data center alternative in Milwaukee at a fraction of the cost,” he said.

The demand for data centers has created one of the few growth areas in real estate nationally. According to various feasibility studies, demand for data center capacity in 2010 significantly exceeded supply. Numerous reports forecast continued growth as internet traffic and cloud-based computing adoption continue to increase.  Revenue for data center providers in North America will reach $8.1 billion this year, up from $5.7 billion in 2009 according to industry watcher Tier1 Research.

PBDC plans to pursue US Green Building Council LEED certification for the data center which will incorporate the latest in energy-efficient technologies and utilities.  Randolph said both construction and operation of the facility will create local job opportunities and enhance the region’s overall IT infrastructure and reputation.

Tribal leadership, PBDC and Data Holdings will further discuss the data center at an Open House, Thursday, February 9, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Tribal Room at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino 1721 W. Canal St., Milwaukee, WI,  53233.