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Local broadband access makes county attractive for tech, information jobs

Logan County is on the cusp of tapping into the growing information services market as NetGain Information Systems continues to expand local access to broadband Internet.

Mike Minnich, NetGain’s chief executive officer, told the Logan County Community Investment Corporation during Friday’s meeting Logan County, especially Bellefontaine, is now connected to a fiber optic network that includes Columbus, Youngstown, Akron, Springfield, Dayton and Cincinnati.

Data-Center-1

Logan County is now positioned to attract information-based businesses such as service, research and call centers, NetGain Information Systems CEO Mike Minnich told members of the Logan County Community Investment Corporation Friday. NetGain is planning to build a data center, similar to this one located in the Midwest, as an anchor tenant in a new economic development complex, Mr. Minnich said. PHOTO | MIKE MINNICH

This gives the local community access to all the major Internet providers, he said.

“Based on our access to those companies, Logan County looks just like a major metropolitan area to customers looking for affordable, high-quality, highly redundant cloud, voice and video-conferencing services as well as back-up data center space,” he said.

Bellefontaine also is a desirable distance from the next nearest data centers and is located at the highest elevation in the state.

“We’re 50 miles from the nearest colocation data centers,” Mr. Minnich said, noting data clients want at least 50 miles between primary data storage locations and the backup locations.

He said the biggest threat to data storage is water, ruling out flood-prone areas for centers.

Ice Miller Whiteboard, an economic development consulting firm, recommended in December that the CIC should pursue developing a Tier IV data center.

A rural location would be unique and the Tier IV certification would be attractive to customers.

It would cost up to $6 million to build the facility.

Ice Miller said such a facility would add at least five new jobs and could generate up to $4 million in annual revenues.

A data center, Ice Miller noted in the report, could serve as a hub for technology jobs and development in surrounding communities.

Mr. Minnich did not say how close his firm is to a decision, but NetGain is in the funding state of the project.

He said his personal mission has been to provide quality broadband access in rural areas at costs that are competitive with major metropolitan markets, because it could be a major economic development tool.

“Corporate site selection criteria now looks at broadband access as an additional utility,” he said. “It’s no longer an option for some businesses.”

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