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Data Centers Creating Waves in the Heartland

Data Centers Creating Waves in the Heartland

June 27, 2019

Greater Des Moines (DSM) is now home to major data center facilities from three of the largest tech companies in the world. MicrosoftFacebook and Apple have all chosen this quiet midwestern region as part of their global technology strategy. As a local technology company that built the first purpose-built commercial data center in the state (and several others), LightEdge knows a bit about why this makes sense. The key factors for selecting DSM are as follows:  


MidAmerican Energy Company is one of the top power companies in the country with a high ratio of renewable generation and low, stable rates. In 2016, the DSM-based company also announced a commitment to reach 100% renewable power for their customers in the coming years. Over time, power outpaces all other costs in data centers. Efficiency is very important, but simply having a balance between low rates and predictable and reliable utility service is a huge benefit for businesses operating these facilities.


Access to reliable and affordable water sources is a key element when designing data centers of this scale. Iowa has access to abundant water resources and the infrastructure to support commercial applications.


All businesses in Iowa benefit from no Sales or Personal Property Taxes on Computer or Software Equipment. Given the high cost of filling these buildings required by Hyperscaler clouds, this is a key consideration in keeping costs under control. Find out more about tax advantages and incentives.


At the crossroads of I-80 and I-35, DSM is uniquely positioned on major fiber optic routes. It is nearly equidistant (digitally speaking) from both coasts and the Gulf, giving DSM strategic benefits for low latency access to nearly the entire country.


Local and state laws can either facilitate this type of local development or greatly impede it. Data center companies have found Iowa and the DSM governments to be good partners in supporting projects of this kind. Whether it is updating building codes to meet new technology requirements or clear procedures for zoning and right-of-way requests, these projects require a true public-private partnership to be successful.  

Affordable Land

Purpose-built data centers require lots of space for not only housing computers, storage and network gear, but also for environmental controls, backup power generation and security considerations. Having the space to maintain each of these components is also critical to the long-term lifecycle of these systems.  

As technologies change and the associated power, space and cooling requirements evolve, it is critical to have flexibility in the physical structures to change the environment along with it. With that in mind, DSM has ample room for building custom structures while still having access to power and connectivity.

Local Workforce

As a whole, Iowans are hardworking and educated. This makes us ideal for operating critical technology facilities such as these. We also represent an alternative hiring location to high cost areas like New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Not only is hiring Iowans more cost effective due to our overall lower cost of living here, but benefits packages designed to keep employees in highly competitive markets ensure a hiring advantage in the DSM employment market. Find out more about talent development in DSM.

Reasonable Natural Disaster Risks 

DSM represents a location with predictable natural disaster risks that allow for more modern building techniques. While we do have storms and floods, proper site selection can mitigate much of that risk. Compared to coastal or mountain areas with hurricanes and seismic activity, DSM is a relatively safe place to be.

As you can see, DSM has successfully capitalized on its natural strengths and, in turn, investments by these tech giants, as well as many local institutions, are helping to catapult the region into a tech hub of its own right.

Greater Des Moines (DSM) has one of the best business climates in the country.The region is nationally recognized for having a talented and educated workforce, a cost of doing business 17 percent below the national average, a low cost of living and an exceptional quality of life.
Nate Olson-Daniel

Nate Olson-Daniel, VP and technical fellow at LightEdge, currently helps develop revenue streams by providing presales support. His areas of expertise are Cisco UCS, routing and switching, voice, data center, security, advocacy, cloud network and security and disaster recovery.