(Daily Inter Lake, The (Kalispell, MT) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 09--MontanaSky Networks is shoring up the last round of financing for a $3.8 million regional data center in Evergreen and hopes to begin interior construction May 1.
The information technology business is retrofitting the former Vann's appliance building on U.S. 2 for a center that will allow local businesses affordable access to sophisticated Internet Protocol services without the need to hire full-time system administrators.
Montana Sky Chief Executive Officer Joe Sullivan said preliminary demolition work to take down several walls inside the Vann's building is being done in-house.
"Some of the power systems have arrived onsite, like the backup generator and backup battery system," Sullivan said. The battery system is designed to keep the data center running in the event of a power failure, between the time when the power goes out and the generator is started.
The company has installed a camera to do a time-lapse video that will show the project and transformation of the building from beginning to end.
MontanaSky is aiming for a September start-up of the data center that will employ about 16 full-time technicians, installers and customer specialists.
MontanaSky is in the final phase of completing a loan application with the U.S. Small Business Administration for a majority of the project funding, Sullivan said.
He's waiting for the company's final 2013 financial statistics before submitting the application by the end of the month.
The company is using its cash reserves to pay for about 25 percent of the cost, Sullivan added.
Flathead County applied for a $400,000 state economic development Community Development Block Grant through the Department of Commerce to cover a portion of the project cost. The county was notified Jan. 30 that the state will grant $148,342 as a loan to MontanaSky for the purchase of equipment for the data center.
Montana West Economic Development will administer the block grant loan and is looking at other programs -- including Montana West's revolving loan program -- that could help fund the data center project, according to Tina Oliphant, vice president of finance for Montana West.
Fred Weber started MontanaSky in Eureka in the mid-1990s, then moved it to Kalispell in 2002.
Weber is still involved with the company, but Sullivan took over as CEO a couple of years ago with a focus on perfecting MontanaSky's customer service.
Traditionally data centers were either built for the sole use of one large company or as fiber hotels for large and regional carriers. However, current needs for the kind of data-center services MontanaSky can offer have increased as businesses become more dependent on the Internet to host platforms for internal and external business operations.
The data center will allow small businesses better access to trends in technology and give them the option of using the center for either disaster recovery or primary operation of their mission-critical server infrastructure. It also would give companies access to greater broadband service and enable them to leverage the center's bandwidth capacity for their server needs.
Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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