DC BLOX is set to cut the proverbial ribbon on the first unit of its flagship technology and innovation campus in Birmingham Thursday, bringing new life to a 27-acre parcel of the former Trinity Steel plant.
The company opened a smaller center in Huntsville last year.
For the past two years, DC BLOX has worked closely with city and county officials and local businesses to develop plans and partnerships for the Birmingham center, said CEO Jeff Uphues. The Thursday event will be “a celebration of this wonderful campus.”
Though the entire project is billed as having the potential for 200,000 square feet and a $785 million investment, the first unit to open is 31,000 square feet. The site includes a data center plus training facilities for technology-related products and services with high-speed internet and cloud services.
“Phase 1 is complete and we have a very brisk demand of customers coming into the facility and are already eyeing that we could be in an expansion mode by the end of this year,” Uphues said by phone Tuesday. The facility is designed to expand in 10,000-square-foot units, and Uphues envisions at least one of those units in progress by the fourth quarter of this year.
DC BLOX doesn’t disclose its customers, says Bill Thomson, vice president of products and marketing, but the mix includes a breadth of companies, managed service providers, local governments and higher education. The firm’s other centers serve clients like Atlanta’s MARTA transit system, Huntsville’s HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and Mohawk Industries.
“Our core service is space and power for IT equipment. Almost every business has a growing need for that — without having to manage the cost and complexity of a data center,” says Thomson.
“Companies are increasingly using technology to drive business, but they need a place for their expanding computer technology, Thomson says. “In the early phase of a business, you can keep it in a closet,” he added. But as companies grow they need more computer space — and data centers are becoming very specialized facilities, needing to be cooled, secured and have a constant power source. DC BLOX offers a Tier 3 reliability rating, much higher than is typically available.
“No one is throwing anything away anymore,” says Uphues. Instead, they need storage for financial data, health care records, videos and much more. “We have the computers where they can store data and have a secure backup copy of that.”
It’s part of the company strategy to “bring reliable data centers to markets that haven’t had them,” says Thomson. “Both Huntsville and Birmingham were in need of the kind of facilities we build.” The firm anticipates expanding those two before going into new markets, but Uphues has recently visited Montgomery, Mobile and Auburn, with an eye to beginning services there.
DC BLOX has half a dozen full-time employees in Birmingham now with plans for 20 in the near future, plus another six currently on the security team. Between the workforce involved with cybersecurity in Birmingham and that involved in space and defense technology in Huntsville, there’s been no problem finding qualified employees, says Uphues.