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Former Tech High site is home to data center

Date: 1/12/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD In a political battle that has spanned several years, the proponents for placing a new state data center at the former Technical High School have won.

The Executive Office of Administration and Finance made the announcement Jan. 8 in a press release.

State Representative and Speaker Pro-Tempore Thomas Petrolati fought for the center to be located on the grounds of Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) and clashed with Congressman Richard Neal, who favored the Tech High School site.

Neal told Reminder Publications he had begun lobbying for the Tech site during the last six months of the Romney administration.

The state Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) had completed three independent assessments of the property along with the STCC site, Neal said.

He added that he always wanted the decision to be merit-based.

The last analysis was completed by DCAM, the Information Technology Division (ITD) and an outside consulting team with expertise in design of critical IT facilities. One factor that swung the decision to Tech was the city's offer to make the site available to the state at a charge of $1.

The center will help ensure the state's computer systems and digital assets continue to be properly secured and maintained and will serve as a backup to the state's primary data center in Chelsea.

The center has an initial budget of $76 million for the site, which has been approved by the Legislature. During 2009, plans for the center will be completed and construction is expected to start in January 2010.

Construction will take about two years and is expected to generate about 200 jobs during the building. When completed the center will have an initial staff of approximately 35 people, with that number increasing to 70 full-time employees when the project is complete.

"The Second Data Center in Springfield will allow us to better manage and protect the systems that provide essential services to our citizens," Anne Margulies, the state's Chief Information Officer, said. "The Second Data Center is also a key part of our strategy to manage our technology in a more cost effective manner and to become a national model for green and environmental friendly data centers."

The release noted that placing the center in Western Massachusetts is part of its effort to help revive the area's economy.

Neal noted the $76 million budget for the data center adds to the state and federal investment in the area. Already, the new federal court house has pumped $70 million into the city for its construction and the State Street Corridor project has a budget of $25 million. He added the reconstruction of Edward, Elliot and Spring streets has also been funded.

Neal said, "This announcement is a victory for the citizens of Springfield who came together in support the effort to locate a new state data center at Technical High School. The municipal, civic and business leaders favored Tech because they know what is in the best interest of the city. Their decision was based on merit and with the understanding that housing the data center on Elliot Street would help complete the historic Armory-Quadrangle neighborhood. And today their voice has been heard. The State Street Corridor is undergoing an unprecedented transformation. With the addition of the data center, close to $180 million will be invested along this important municipal boulevard. I want to thank Gov. Patrick for this significant economic development announcement and for his unyielding support of the city of Springfield."