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$10M data centre for drones to be built in North Dakota

Fri 9 Dec 2016

Grand Sky, a 217-acre business and aviation park devoted entirely to drones, has signed a deal with EdgeData LLC to construct a 16,000 square-foot data center worth $10M USD.

The data center will be located onsite at Grand Sky, which is on the Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. Construction is scheduled to begin next spring, and the facility will be operational one year later.

The data center will initially house 72 cabinets of equipment in 6,000 square feet of data center space, with additional space for administration and future growth. Features include redundant power, multiple layers of security, and multiple fiber optic connections.

While the Grand Sky business and aviation park is entirely devoted to the drone business sector, and the new data center will focus on big data analytics for drones, the facility will provide scalable solutions for tenants of all sizes across various industries.

President of Grand Sky Development, Thomas Swoyer, Jr. said, “This much-needed data center will allow our tenants and companies from other industries to safely store data and more easily convert it into consumable information.”

The new data center will be eligible for tax incentives provided by the state of North Dakota, including an exemption on data center equipment purchases. Representatives from EdgeData and Grand Sky said that their eligibility for tax incentives was a critical factor in the agreement that was reached to build the data center in North Dakota.

North Dakota has been called the “Silicon Valley for drones” and has spent an estimated $34 million attempting to lure companies in the UAS industry to their state. Last month, Senator John Hoeven said in an interview that he advocates lifting restrictions on no-fly zones in an attempt to bring more technology companies to the state, to capitalize on the economic opportunities posed by the drone industry.

“It’s going to be a huge economic driver and job creator for us in North Dakota. But really this is us leading the global competition on unmanned technology,” he said.

Two anchor tenants for the Grand Sky business park are Northrop Grumman and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, leaders in the development and testing of drones for civilian and military applications.


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