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Midwest is ‘fantastic location for data centers’

The data-center sector is among the industries targeted for expansion in the Sioux Falls area.

The Sioux Falls Development Foundation has identified information assurance as one of five key industries in the community that are well-suited for continued growth.

Industry experts and corporate executives also see Sioux Falls and other cities in the region as great prospective sites for corporate data centers.

“The Midwest is a fantastic location for data centers,” says Scott Sandal, who works out of the Yankton, S.D., area and tours data centers around the world as part of his job as field engineer with New Jersey-based Raritan.

The region has the land, power and bandwidth to accommodate the development of new centers, Sandal says.

The only hesitation about the region that Sandal sees in corporate executives comes when discussions turn to the availability of skilled workers. That concern is probably part perception and part reality, says Sandal, who would like to see the data-center industry grow in South Dakota.

Concerns about skilled workers might be a good topic for the state to examine, he says.

The state has been addressing the issue, to some degree. For example, it has retained a national staffing service, Manpower Inc., to help attract more skilled workers to South Dakota.

The Development Foundation, meanwhile, touts the productivity of the existing work force.

The foundation also points out that 45,000 college students attend classes within 150 miles of Sioux Falls. One of the schools, Dakota State University in nearby Madison, S.D., offers undergraduate and graduate-level degrees directly related to information assurance.

Other selling points of Sioux Falls, according to the foundation, include the area’s low-risk characteristics in terms of weather the availability of relatively low-cost electricity.

The telecommunications infrastructure of the area, including that provided by SDN, is among the region’s other pluses.

By the Development Foundation’s count, about a dozen companies operate data centers in Sioux Falls. SDN Communications is among them.

SDN has a year-old data-protection center just northwest of Sioux Falls that is specifically designed to help companies minimize the risks of disasters ranging from storms and fire to sabotage and accidents.

SDN’s new colocation facility opened in late 2011 is expected to be fully leased by the end of 2012. That could prompt SDN to build additional phases of the data center in the near future.

The bunker-like structure is made of poured and precast concrete. Features include backup power sources, walls thick enough to withstand an F4 tornado, constant electronic surveillance and self-healing circuitry.

In addition to SDN Communications, companies in the Sioux Falls area involved in information assurance include Automatic Data Processing Inc., CoSentry Inc., Premier Bankcard, TCF Bank and the Earth Resources Observation and Science Center (EROS), according to the Development Foundation.

“ADP's choice to locate its newest Tier IV international information assurance data center in Sioux Falls was largely due to its comparison of the operating costs in 45 metropolitan areas,” according to the foundation’s website.

The foundation website notes that a study by the New Jersey-based Boyd Co. found Sioux Falls to be the most cost-effective site to operate a 75-employee, 125,000-square-foot data center.

See the foundation’s website,, for more information about the business climate in Sioux Falls.