As data has become an increasingly important part of business, a growing number of companies are looking to build or rent space in computing facilities in order to store all of their critical information. Nebraska has emerged as a popular location due to climate, energy, and tax incentives, and more businesses are building data centers in the state every year.
In an attempt to draw even more companies to the state, the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership hosted its fourth annual Data Center Day in mid-June. The event brought data center professionals and representatives from 10 enterprises across the country as a recruitment effort to expand the Nebraska's growing data center market.
One of the day's activities included a tour of the new Omaha data center owned by Travelers Insurance. The $200 million, 183,000 square-foot facility opened in May, joining neighboring buildings owned by Yahoo, Cabela's, Cosentry and Fidelity Insurance.
Making a state appealing to data center providers
While completed data centers don't often employ many full time workers, they are still highly beneficial to a state's economy. Randy Thelen, senior vice president of economic development at the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, said that data centers offer a massive tax base for Nebraska without putting strain on its labor supply. Thelen noted that the facilities also act as "a foot in the door to get companies to Nebraska." Once a business has a base of operations in the state, officials begin to think of other ways they can work with the community, especially if they have a positive experience from the start.
One way to give companies a positive experience is by offering data center tax incentives. Nebraska offers some of the most competitive incentives in the U.S., addressing the industry's two biggest factors: utility costs and property taxes. Brenda Hicks-Sorensen, director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, said that the agency is working with the governor to find ways to improve the state's investment strategy, including data centers. State officials are also working to improve in the other areas data center operators look at while choosing a location: reliable power source, favorable business climate and availability of skilled tech workers.
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