Greenville’s economic developers are looking to attract tech companies – here’s how

GREENVILLE- the Eastern North Carolina Alliance (ENC) in Greenville, a public-private partnership focused on economic development in Greenville and Pitt County, is working to diversify the region’s industrial base by requesting a change in the text.

The City of Greenville Planning and Zoning Commission approved the Greenville ENC Alliance’s text change request in December, allowing it to go to City Council for final approval on Thursday, January 13. Planning and zoning commission approval amends title 9, chapter 4 of the city code to establish a “modular data processing facility” and a “data processing center” as two separate uses, standards associated and zoning districts.

“As the Greenville ENC Alliance strives to diversify our industries for recruiting, we felt it was imperative to respond to this order now to enable us to create growth opportunities in the technology sector,” said said Uconda Dunn, vice president of business development for the Greenville ENC Alliance. “Greenville has garnered great interest from technology companies in recent years, and we look forward to helping them localize and make it easier to locate the site.”

Aerial view of Compute North 1. (Photo by Compute North)

One such company is Compute North, a Minnesota-based data center infrastructure company. Currently, Compute North owns and operates data processing centers in Texas, South Dakota and Nebraska. The company is looking to expand into North Carolina because of its business-friendly climate and continues to evaluate several sites for a data center in the eastern part of the state, including Greenville.

“We’re focusing specifically on locations that are zoned industrial around current industry,” said Kristyan Mjolsnes, vice president of marketing and spokesperson for Compute North. “While Compute North is not the requester for the text amendment, we support the efforts of the Greenville ENC Alliance to bring new technology companies to the region and we support the text amendment.”

Compute North is a leader in TIER 0™ data centers designed for distributed computing. In addition to the interest of locating in Greenville, the company is actively working to finalize the technical developments required to support Optimized Distributed Computing (ODC) – or unencrypted computing – and expects its first ODC client to be operational in early 2022.

“With the approval of the text change and the support of the City Planning and Zoning Commission, we look forward to presenting this to the pro-business, pro-growth Greenville City Council on Thursday,” Dunn added.

If the amendment is approved, Compute North would consider developing its first East Coast data center infrastructure project in Greenville. Compute North expects an initial development investment of approximately $55 million for this project. In addition, the project is expected to create numerous contract jobs and 15 full-time local jobs with an estimated annual salary 20% higher than the Pitt County average salary. The company is also exploring ways to add value to the community through sponsorships, educational training and scholarship opportunities.

Compute North’s energy consumption will come from the Greenville Utilities Commission (GUC) and no additional energy purchases are required to support facility operations. In fact, by making more full use of existing wholesale electricity agreements – and providing demand response services – Compute North is likely to help stabilize GUC electricity costs over the medium to long term.

“We worked with the Greenville ENC Alliance to attract companies that could help us grow, diversify and balance our customer base. The opportunity to attract a customer in the data center sector, such as Compute North, would help us achieve this. Such an addition would benefit all of our customers and the city,” said GUC General Manager and CEO Tony Cannon. “GUC supports the work of the Alliance and others who want and are actively working to bring the prosperity that comes with new industries and new businesses. Data processing and distributed computing facilities would bring significant investment, jobs, and electrical load that would benefit the entire Greenville area.

Any location considered by Compute North would undergo a full environmental and wildlife survey to ensure compatibility with environmental regulations. Additionally, the facility would not create toxins as there are no refrigerants or other chemicals used in the operation of their containers. The project will also have to comply with all local noise, storm water and environmental regulations.

*Greenville Utilities Commission is a funding partner of the Greenville Eastern North Carolina (ENC) Alliance.

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