‘This is a game changer.’ Data center could mean tech opportunities to county

March 26, 2013

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

PERE MARQUETTE TWP. — The possibility of Mason County being the future site of the Michigan data processing center would most likely put this area on the technological map. (see related story)

“This is a game changer,” said Kathy Maclean, chief executive officer of the Ludington and Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce. “It’s exciting to hear this news. This is really one of the biggest things that’s happened to the economy of this area in a long time. If this happens it will put Mason County on a whole different playing field.”

Maclean said the trickle-down affects of the facility could mean many technology jobs for the area.

State Representative Ray Franz said the Ludington is a very likely candidate for the new site. He said this would be a far more advanced facility than what already exists in Lansing. Besides handling the state’s data processing, it would contract with numerous other agencies.

Logistically, he said, the Mason County site has advantages over the competing bidders, one located in Flint and the other located in Marquette. “We have the pumped storage plant and the wind farm and that makes this deal very enticing to the technology industry on many levels,” Franz told MCP. “First, both the hydroelectric plant and the wind farm offer green energy. Additionally, this facility will generate an enormous amount of heat. This heat is exhausted through water, which needs to be released back into the environment. Other facilities would have to build a cooling facility, but here we have the pumped storage plant’s reservoir. The facility can release its heated water into the reservoir, which will allow it to cool down naturally and then return it to Lake Michigan. This offers a huge cost savings that the other bidders can’t touch.”




Mason County may soon be home to the state’s data center. Representatives from Consumers Energy and the development company were at the Pere Marquette Township board of trustees meeting Tuesday night to ask for a resolution of support for the project.

If it is approved by the state Department of Energy, the project will mean a major stimulus to the economy, especially in construction jobs.

A data center is where the majority of an enterprise’s servers and storage are located, operated and managed. The current state data center is located in the Lansing area.

Doug Roberts, director of government affairs with Consumers Energy, said Consumers will most likely move its data center facilities to Ludington from Jackson, if the state center is built.

The proposed Mason County site is located on the north side of the pumped storage facility between Chauvez and Bradshaw roads, east of South Lakeshore Drive. The properties are currently owned by four different groups: Consumers, Harvey Walton, Dr. Donn Dougherty and the Michelle and Jeff Kramer.

Boji said three other sites are in the running for the data center. He said he believes the Ludington site has the best chance, though, based on several factors including its closeness to back-up power sources, the Consumers Energy Pumped Storage Facility. .

“Jobs are a very important part of this,” Boji said. “The governor has made it very clear that this must be about economic development. This will mean construction jobs and in the long term, not quantity but quality jobs. These will be highly paid professionals.”

The proposal must be submitted by April 26, Boji said.

We will have an update on this story later tonight