North Las Vegas sees new data storage center as first step in economic recovery

A view of the Via West server, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

North Las Vegas’ latest hope for economic recovery lies in a formerly abandoned warehouse in the middle of the desert.

Outside, the 100,000-square-foot facility looks like any of the other gray warehouses on Lone Mountain Road. Inside, it is a first-of-its kind data center.

ViaWest stores and manages data for companies to ensure that their networks stay online in the event of a power failure, viral attack or natural disaster. Like most data centers, its newest location is built like a fortress.

Customers must pass through five security checkpoints that require key cards and thumbprint scans. Doors open to a blindingly white, tiled warehouse that houses data in black cages.

What separates this facility from others, however, is its ability to keep its customers’ networks running and their data online during calamities.

The Uptime Institute, an independent data center research company, granted ViaWest's facility its first-ever Tier IV rating for a customer-based data center in North America. Tier IV is the most secure rating a data center can receive.

ViaWest's other local facilities are designed to withstand only planned power outages.

“This is not just us saying this facility is the best one we built, but (Uptime Institute) is saying it's the best institute,” said Dave Leonard, ViaWest's senior vice president of data center operations.

For North Las Vegas, ViaWest represents a building block toward economic recovery. While officials and residents pinned similar hopes on businesses in the past — solar panel manufacturer Amonix and the El Super grocery store, for example — city Economic Development Administrator Terri Sheridan said she is confident ViaWest is different.

“Recovery will be slow for all of us, but certainly it is the beginning of a turnaround,” Sheridan said.

Wednesday, the company officially opened the data center's doors. It is the third ViaWest location in the Las Vegas Valley and the company's 24th facility in the United States.

The facility is equipped with 74,000 square feet of raised floor space to store customers' data. A high-tech cooling and power system keeps the network operational during power failures.

ViaWest Regional Vice President Michael Vignato said the North Las Vegas warehouse is the company's flagship location.

The facility also helps draw positive attention to a city that has struggled.

“I think ViaWest put us on the map so that we, too, can be considered a place for companies such as ViaWest to locate,” Sheridan said.

The data center is expected to bring in about $788,000 in tax revenue over the next five years and create 13 new jobs, Sheridan said.

Leonard said ViaWest’s real impact will be in the number of people it draws to the city. Companies that store their data there are expected to send employees to live in North Las Vegas to maintain the networks, helping to increase the city’s visibility and fill vacant apartments and homes.

“The biggest impact by far is when new customers relocate into a new facility, they inevitably relocate new people near the area,” Leonard said. “What we found historically is when we relocate into an area, customers follow with more people.”

Leonard said North Las Vegas is a perfect fit for the company. ViaWest explored more than 20 locations across the valley before discovering the abandoned warehouse that used to be a glass panel warehouse for Amonix, which closed in July.

Its proximity to Interstate 15 and its rectangular shape made it perfect, he said.

City officials “have gone out of their way to be helpful and facilitative to us in launching our new venture,” Leonard said.

This isn’t the first time the city has labeled a new company a harbinger of economic recovery. But Sheridan is confident that this time, the predictions will come true. ViaWest is a proven company with a strong customer base and a Tier IV rating, she said.

“We look forward to having them pave the way for other companies to take notice and relocate in our city,” Sheridan said.

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