Thursday, May 14, 2009

Schumer: Yahoo eyeing WNY for data center

Business First of Buffalo - by James Fink Business First

New York Sen. Charles Schumer said talks with Internet giant Yahoo are progressing far enough that he feels confident the Western New York region will be successful in its bid to land the company’s Northeast data center.

“This is not a done deal,” Schumer said Sunday morning during an impromptu press conference at Prior Aviation. “But it is looking very, very good.”

State and local economic development officials have been quietly courting Yahoo since late last fall in the hopes of getting the data center, which would service all of the Northeast. The center is expected to employ between 50 and 100 people, initially.

Several sites in Niagara, Orleans and Genesee Counties are under consideration - but none in Erie County.

Western New York is not alone.

Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois are also making offers to Yahoo.

The center could be as large as 60,000 square feet with room to expand in the future.

Schumer has had direct meetings and conversations with Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz to specifically pitch Western New York as the site for the data center. Yahoo recently announced plans to build a 150,000-square-foot, $100 million regional data center in Nebraska.

A handsome incentive package is being crafted by state and local economic development officials, with one of the keys being the provision of six to eight megawatts of low-cost hydropower from the New York Power Authority. Gov. David Paterson, late Friday, demanded that NYPA offer the low-cost hydropower. The authority may consider the making the offer when its directors meet this week.

Several factors may be working in Western New York’s favor including the strength of the local workforce, the region’s inexpensive development costs, the success back office facilities like those that service Geico and CitiGroup have had in the region, the low-cost hydropower offer and, the cool, temperate weather.

“They are not going to Texas or Florida or even staying in California,” Schumer said. “Our cool temperatures have become a major asset.”

If the Yahoo center ends up in Western New York, it could be a major economic development coup for the region. That decision will catch the eyes of corporate site selectors and ramp up the region's position on their radar screens.

“A company like Yahoo will be a beacon to other high-tech companies,” Schumer said. “It sends out a strong signal. Other companies will take notice.”

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