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Des Moines’s Newest Cash Crop: Data Centers

Des Moines is now home to major data center facilities from three of the largest tech companies in the world. Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple have all chosen this quiet midwestern city as part of their global technology strategies. 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 the Des Moines metro are as follows:


MidAmerican is one of the top power companies in the country with a high ratio of renewable generation and low, stable rates. In 2016, they also announced a commitment to reach 100 percent 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.


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


Local and State laws can either facilitate this type of development or greatly impede it. Data center companies have found Iowa and the Des  Moines Metro Area 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, the Des Moines area 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 Des Moines employment market.

Reasonable Natural Disaster Risks:

Central Iowa represents a location with predictable natural disaster risks that can be designed for with 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, Iowa is a relatively safe place to be.

As you can see, the Des Moines metro area 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.

About LightEdge

With over 20 years in business, LightEdge offers a full stack of best-in-class IT services delivering flexibility, security, and control. Their solutions include premier colocation across seven purpose-built data centers, industry-leading private Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and cloud platforms, and the top global security and compliance measures. Their owned and operated facilities, integrated DR solutions, and premium compliant cloud choices make up true Hybrid Cloud Solution Centers. LightEdge’s strong financial backing of the Anschutz Group empowers them to invest heavily in their markets.

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