Gwinnett snags big data center

It still has a long way to go, but Gwinnett took a step in getting back some of the high-paying jobs it lost after the telecom bubble burst.

On Wednesday, Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett-Packard said it would build a 200,000-square-foot data center in Suwanee that could employ up to 140 people with an average salary of $60,000.

It took an $8 million tax break to snare the world's second largest personal computer maker - the first time in about two decades the county used that type of incentive.

"This move helps to ensure the continued high quality of life for Gwinnett citizens," said District 1 Commissioner Lorraine Green. "When companies like HP locate here, they not only bring the jobs and investments directly associated with their company, they also bring a demand for goods and services, which strengthens other Gwinnett businesses."

The other allures

Several factors led Hewlett-Packard to choose metro Atlanta, Houston and Austin to showcase its new data centers, including a strong telecommunications and power infrastructure in those cities. Even the lower risk of earthquakes, hurricanes and other types of natural disasters played a role.

Soaring energy costs are part of the equation, too.

The information technology industry has been investigating ways to reduce the enormous amount of power data centers use to keep all those computers cool. So Hewlett-Packard designed its new wave of tech hubs with what it calls smart cooling technology, saving 25 percent on the power bill.

In a prepared statement, CEO Mark Hurd said, "These facilities will serve as a model of the next-generation data center that HP believes represents the future of enterprise computing."

Not to be overlooked

It may not have the cache of a Hewlett-Packard, but Foundation Technologies Inc. is well known in the construction industry - and it wants to call Gwinnett home.

The 20-year-old Tucker company plans to build a distribution center at 1400 Progress Industrial Blvd. The proposed site is within Gwinnett Progress Center, a sprawling hub for regional warehousing and distribution. Publix has been a tenant there for years.

Foundation's plans for a nearly 47,000-square-foot, two-story distribution center - about half the size of a supermarket - were submitted May 9, according to the Gwinnett County Department of Planning and Development.

The company has developed construction products including centering devices, and it distributes steel screw anchors made by A.B. Chance Co., according to the Foundation Web site.

Doug Sams can be reached via e-mail at doug.sams@gwinnettdailypost.com.