KEARNEY — The addition of the Compute North data center at Kearney’s Tech oNE technology park will boost the tract’s attractiveness for other high-tech companies, Councilman Randy Buschkoetter said Tuesday.
“This is one of the things we’ve really been working for,” Buschkoetter said after the Kearney City Council voted to approve the city’s agreement for the Minnesota-based Compute North to build its data center at Tech oNE.
The $7.65 million data center will be the third facility at Tech oNE. Other entities at Kearney’s tech park are the 53-acre SoCore solar farm and the Xpanxion executive briefing offices near 56th Street and Antelope Avenue, which is the northwest boundary for the tech park.
The city of Kearney and Economic Development Council of Buffalo County jointly announced Tuesday that Compute North is coming to Kearney.
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Labeled as a mini data center, the Compute North facility will be a large energy consumer. It’s estimated the facility’s energy load could be as much as 20 megawatts of electricity supplied by Nebraska Public Power District.
NPPD leases the city of Kearney’s electrical distribution system to deliver energy to its Kearney customers. NPPD’s lease payments generate $6.4 million in revenue annually for the city. Adding the electricity that Compute North will consume operating its equipment and keeping it cool will net the city an estimated $528,000 per year in additional lease payments from NPPD.
Another benefit, Buschkoetter said, will be the opportunities afforded to the science and technology programs at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, which already supplies some of the computer software developers who are employed at Xpanxion.
“This continues to expand the partnership with UNK,” Buschkoetter said.
Councilwoman Tami James Moore said Compute North will contribute to the Kearney economy in other ways.
“They are going to encourage local contractors,” Moore said.
Under the agreement approved on a 4-0 vote Tuesday — with Mayor Stan Clouse, an NPPD sales executive, abstaining — Compute North will pay $75,000 for its five-acre tract at Tech oNE. Compute North has pledged to create 10 full-time jobs. City Attorney Michael Tye said.
“These jobs will be created within 36 months of the date of the agreement and must be maintained for a minimum period of 24 months from the date of hire. Compute North NE LLC also agrees to construct an office building at this location in addition to the microdata center facilities,” Tye said.
Darren Robinson, executive director of the Economic Development Council, said he and City Manager Michael Morgan had been working with three data center companies.
“Compute North took to Kearney right off the bat,” Robinson said.