(MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson)
St Paul’s Ford assembly plant closed eleven months ago. The lingering question remains what should be done with the site. My favorite idea remains transforming the plant into a Google server farm.
Ed Kohler, a local web strategy guy, argued in a 2007 open letter to Google, that the tunnels beneath the Ford plant — dug to mine silica to make glass for Ford vehicle windows in the early days of the plant — would be a perfect “secure, climate controlled environment” for a data center.
His letter cycled back into my head today after I read the newest pitch by state officials to locate data centers in Minnesota. The Department of Employment and Economic Development says that “Minnesota’s cool climate, low energy costs, and great tax incentives make our state an ideal location for data centers.”
OK, let’s put the pieces together.
1.) DEED is chatting up Minnesota’s geography, talent and, apparently, awesome business tax structure (“Minnesota’s business taxes rank among the 10 lowest in the nation”!) to lure data centers.
2.) Google recently began showing off its data centers around the country, boasting about their efficiency and use of renewable energy.
3.) St. Paul has a giant industrial site — with its own source of renewable energy — and a network of already constructed underground tunnels!
The group Action Squad has photos of the Ford tunnels posted on its website. Here’s one:
A shot taken from the dual freight elevator area, back toward the twin entry shafts. – 6/9/1937
Yes, the tunnels might not be in pristine condition. But it’s probably cheaper to fix tunnels than build new ones, right? Plus, there’s a dam!
Don’t make us beg more than we have to.
— Paul Tosto