By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Techopedia defines a data center as “a repository that houses computing facilities like servers, routers, switches and firewalls”. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is looking at building a 100,000 square foot data center in Cherokee County.
Tribal Council approved legislation, submitted by Birdtown Rep. Albert Rose, during Annual Council on Tuesday, Oct. 18 that instructs the EBCI Commerce Division and the EBCI Office of the Treasurer to secure “financing options” totaling $100,000,000 for the Mission Critical Data Center within the next 120 days.
RTECH Group, Inc., based in Atlanta, has been conducting an updated feasibility study for the project and Todd Richard, RTECH chief executive officer, addressed Tribal Council during discussion on the issue on Thursday.
“In looking at the space, we decided there was ample and efficient space to build up to a million square feet on the property just southeast of the casino (Harrah’s Valley River),” said Richard. “What we can do is allocate phases so the money wouldn’t be spent day one. We’d have available funds. So, what happens, many times, with these data centers is before you’re fifty percent done with the build-out, you’ll already have under lease fifty percent or more of the available space.”
He added, “What that does is trigger an expansion, and what we want to do is have funds available enough so that when that trigger expansion occurs within the first six to eight months, the Phase B could be constructed. That’s the other half of the 100,000 square feet.”
Big Cove Rep. Teresa McCoy said she fell in love with the idea when she first heard of it. “It’s one of the first projects that I have seen come across the table that was geared specifically for employment for tribal members. We all saw what happened with the casino. We all saw what happened with other projects. This is a new, modern way to provide manufacturing, and our people will have an opportunity, if they want it, to have probably some of the finest jobs in the world.”
Stating it was one of the top five pieces of legislation she’s seen in her time on Tribal Council, Rep. McCoy made the motion to pass. “I am ready to move, and I’ve been ready.”
The legislation passed unanimously.
Yellowhill Rep. B. Ensley commented, “We need to diversify this Tribe, and I support what you’re doing 100 percent.”
He also commended Rep. Rose for working to bring the project to this point. “I appreciate you doing all of the work. You’ve talked about it for several years. You stayed on it, and I appreciate the hard work.”