Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced in June that the city was launching Data Center Express, an effort to streamline the Chicago data center startup process. The project was created in partnership between the city, startup support organization World Business Chicago and utility company Commonwealth Edison.
Data Center Express was originally started as a pilot program in September 2012 by the city's Department of Housing and Economic Development, and so far five Chicago data centers have been launched after going through the process. One of the program's most recent success stories is Server Farm Realty, whose $220 million facility takes up 450,000 square feet in Chicago and has been certified as a Tier III data center.
"Facilities like these highlight why Chicago is primed to be a technology and data capital for the 21st Century," said Emanuel. "I am committed to laying the foundation for the new economy through initiatives like Data Center Express, which will make it easier for data centers to provide their vital services to Chicago's businesses, creating jobs and economic opportunity throughout the city."
Location, Location, Location
Chicago is favorable for data centers for a number of reasons, including its location at the center of the national fiber-optic network, relative lack of natural disasters and stable electricity prices. Along with Chicago's low power rates, the city also offers fuel with a low carbon mix and provides free cooling year-round, making it a potential hub for companies interested in data center sustainability.
"Chicago is the ideal location for secure, low latency network infrastructure. It offers aggressive power rates with a low carbon fuel mix and efficient, free cooling and is unmatched in its capabilities for content distribution," said Avner Papouchado, CEO of Server Farm Realty. "Beyond its robust communications fabric, the city offers access to a well-educated high, work ethic labor while being centrally located, easily accessible to both the East and West coasts of the U.S."
Emanuel aims to build upon Chicago's advantages by providing a single point of contact within the city for data centers that can help with the startup process. The city has made data centers central to its technology growth strategy because the need for companies to store large amounts of data in a cost-effective way is continuing to grow.
Currently, there are 29 active Chicago data centers. From now on, companies interested in opening or expanding facilities in the city will go through Data Center Express.