New Datacenter in old Army Igloos


Jan 6, 2001
SAVANNA, Ill. - A high-tech business planned for the former Savanna Army Depot not only may create up to 2,000 high-paying jobs over the next few years but will do so while preserving the environment of thousands of acres of land along the Mississippi River.
On Monday, partners and stakeholders in Savanna Depot Technologies Corp.'s project unveiled plans for Savanna Server Farm, a high-security managed hosting service for computer data. The jobs created could be high-paying, high-tech jobs, possibly in the $15- to $50-per-hour range. The business could spur other expansion of the Eagle's Landing Development, which is on the site of the former Savanna Army Depot.

SDTC president Louis Giokas said he left IBM to start his own business developing the premier managed hosting site in the nation because he could see that other companies were expanding to provide high-security backup storage service. The idea is to provide a second server with remote sustainability and survivability. In other words, if one mirror image storage facility is damaged or off line, the other will continue to function. Although some companies are expanding to include storage capabilities, Giokas said the depot site will be unique.
"I don't know of any other sites that are like this," he said. "As far as I know there are no comparable sites in the U.S."

The interest in off-site data storage has increased since Sept. 11, 2001. Clients could include national and international businesses interested in secure dual storage sites and regulated financial institutions, which are required to have backup facilities at least 300 miles away from their primary site. The igloos provide a unique site for the enterprise and the U.S. Army agreed to sub-lease about 400 igloos for the venture. The Jo-Carroll Depot Local Redevelopment Authority will lease the initial 30 igloos to be converted.
Giokas said engineers are optimistic that customers can be in place at the depot by the end of this year. As clients are added, the company will expand into igloos to the north and there's plenty of room to build even more storage facilities. By the end of 2004, he expects his company will have recovered all of the jobs, about 450, that were lost when the depot closed.

Technicians paid a starting wage of about $15 and hour will provide support to customer equipment housed in the igloos. The group plans to partner with Highland Community College to provide training for the technician's positions at the depot site. Other jobs will include programmers and systems managers, with pay in the $50-per-hour range. Projections for job creation overall is 150 by March 2004, 385 by July 2004, 635 by November 2004, and up to 2010 by August 2006.

Other related jobs could include hosting software distribution and technology support sites and providing space for hard document storage. There will also be some construction jobs created.

Giokas said a top-quality team has been pulled together to develop the assets. Several stakeholders in the SDTC project spoke at Monday's press conference, including John Morley, Bovis; Dave Kelley, Kvaerner Engineering & Construction; Don Nicholas, Mitsubishi; and Ed Britton, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Kelley said when reviewing opportunities, his company looks for a stable workforce, infrastructure and strong political support.
"I'd like to tell you we've found all of those elements here," Kelley said. He said his company is excited about what may be accomplished by the group.

The depot site is seen as a key mid-continent location, said Nicholas. About a year ago he toured the depot and it seemed that the igloos in that location could provide an opportunity for super secure server locations for companies. Mitsubishi was pleased to hear the site was available for private sector development and looks forward to working with the SDTC team.
Although the project is moving rapidly ahead, Giokas said there's still a lot of work to be done. The community has so far been very supportive of the effort. Already, he is receiving unsolicited resumes from people eager to work for SDTC.
"I don't see any roadblocks (to development)," Giokas said. "I think the funding will be there. We're working on that."
The LRA is working with the company to find grant support and low-interest loans. Ylinen said he sees the SDTC project as an anchor opportunity on which to build more business.

The LRA was introduced to Giokas' project late last year and recognized that the project needed the support of Congress. U.S. Rep. Manzullo, R-Egan, was introduced to the concept in February, said Dave Ylinen, executive director of the LRA. Then, key stakeholders met in Washington, D.C.

At Monday's press conference, Manzullo said he was pleased to share the exciting news about an initiative that could crate thousands of jobs and is environmentally friendly because the project not only has potential to restore jobs lost at the depot's closing but also will maintain the environment of the area.

Manzullo said the project is "nothing less than astounding" and could lead to more development of the site, including eco-tourism opportunities.
The goal is to do something to develop the community and is ecologically sound. A server farm will generate a large number of jobs but won't disrupt the environment.

Ed Britton, district manager with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said he's worked almost eight years on the depot effort. The project only has happened through the tireless efforts of many people, he said. He hopes that a wildlife refuge of more than 9,400 acres soon will be announced.

This is pretty close to where I live. It's a really cool project because they are recycling the old hills the Army used for storing ammunition and making them into datacenters. I hope this is a sucessful venture as I should have my degree in computer science in a couple more years and it would be sweet to have a job close to where I've grown up and it's pretty cheap to live here too.


May 15, 2001
More jobs is always a good thing. I think Savanna might be a bit of a drive from NW Chicago burbs for me...:(

Good luck to those that need employment down there

EDIT: Total Distance: 157.78 miles
Total Estimated Time:
2 hours, 58 minutes :p...just a bit too much of a commute