As Governor Eric J. Holcomb phrased it, “It’s Happening in Hammond.” On Wednesday afternoon, Holcomb joined Hammond Mayor Thomas M. McDermott Jr. in breaking ground on a new multimillion-dollar data center, Digital Crossroads of America Data Center. The center will serve a growing demand for businesses and content distribution providers to lease data center space.
“Today brings us a huge win for the Region, and when it’s a huge win for the Region, it’s a huge win for the state as a whole,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb and McDermott were also joined by Thomas P. Dakich and Peter Feldman of Indiana NAP, a newly-launched venture spearheading and advancing the project. Indiana NAP is developing the project as a state-of-the-art, renewable energy campus; plans are also in the works for a 10,000-square-foot incubator and a greenhouse that will use waste heat from the servers and equipment. The greenhouse will serve Purdue University Northwest and will be one-of-a-kind.
“When I first came here and took a look at the site, I saw the raw assets here could be made into something really special,” Feldman said. “[There are] massive amounts of power and it’s available today. In addition, the site has a lot of cooling power from the former plants, so it has the added bonus to make this not just a data center, but potentially a new technology hub or campus for the state.”
Digital Crossroads of America Data Center is being built on the site of the former State Line Generating Facility, which closed in 2012. The industrial location provides a perfect source of cooling power and natural resources to generate the data center and its many bonus features.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation is supporting the project through the Industrial Recovery Tax Credit (DINO) program, which provides an incentive to invest in former industrial sites and improve quality of places in Indiana communities. The project has the potential to grow into a $200 million investment across three buildings and 400,000 square feet of state-of-the-art space in Hammond.
Holcomb commended McDermott, town officials, and project leaders on tapping into the potential and creating another opportunity for growth in the state of Indiana.
“It’s so good that you saw from the very outset the potential here—you saw that the grass truly is greener on this side of the state line,” Holcomb said, eliciting a round of laughter and applause.
Dakich said that the project would not be a success without Holcomb.
“Governor Holcomb knew that if his administration embraced technology and infrastructure, the world would notice; people like Pete Feldman would come in and they would recognize that Indiana is a place to do business” Dakich said. “This is a governor that genuinely cares about Northwest Indiana, that genuinely cares about infrastructure.”
McDermott thanked his team and everyone involved with the project, including NIPSCO and Hasse Construction. He also said that he and Holcomb concocted a plan to make drivers on the Chicago Skyway recognize that the site belongs in Indiana.
“We’re going to put up a big landmark that you will see when you come over Skyway Bridge: I want to make the biggest Indiana flag in the state of Indiana!” McDermott said. “We’ve identified the biggest flag, and it’s in Memorial Stadium at I.U. If [ours is] 6 inches bigger, I’m fine with that!”
Another round of applause and laughter sounded at that. Among the crowd was the Hasse family and construction crew members. Hasse Construction is creating the structure and foundation of the data center. Clint Jolliff, Project Manager, has been working with Hasse for three months and is looking forward to the road ahead.
“I’m very excited to be part of this project, to work with the local building trades, and to put a nice structure on the lakefront here in Hammond,” said Jolliff. “I love working for Hasse, I love working for Bill. I think this is a big deal for not only the Hammond community but also Hasse Construction.”
Feldman was confident that, with the positive working relationship he and his team have developed with McDermott, the ribbon cutting ceremony could take place before July of next year.
“This is truly a team sport,” Holcomb said. “Mayor, I can see the bumper sticker now: ‘It’s Happening in Hammond.’”