In Technology, Duluth Is Well-Connected
Index: Duluth Special Report
Duluth’s winters aren’t the only reason Iowa-based Involta, LLC, opened a 26,000-square-foot multitenant data center there in September 2012, but it was a factor.
“A data center generates a lot of heat, so we have to cool facilities 24/7, 365 days a year,” Involta CEO Bruce Lehrman says. “In the Duluth market, we were able to leverage technology that allows us to use the cooler outside temperature to cool the facility and provide a much more economical cooling solution in Duluth than in any other marketplace.”
Regional economic development organization APEX connected with Involta, which was looking to add a new facility to its existing two. In addition, the city of Duluth was able to guarantee a robust source of power, thanks to locally based utility Minnesota Power. “There are some organizations that wanted to have a data center facility here in Duluth,” Lehrman says, “so we were able to make the economic decision based on some of those local companies.”
While most of the Duluth center’s customers are regional companies, a number are also based in the Twin Cities. “With our national footprint, we’re finding companies that are looking for a second site outside their region,” Lehrman says. In January 2012, Involta opened a smaller facility, which is used primarily by Duluth-based health system Essentia.
Duluth has sprouted its own entrepreneurial tech companies, including business IT services provider Citon, systems integrator Compudyne, Saturn Systems, which touts its “rural outsourcing” model for lower-cost software development, and Sensio, which develops software for homecare applications.
The city also hosts two annual business-oriented tech events:
- The Zenith Social Media Marketing Conference, sponsored by the Greater Duluth Chamber of Commerce, marketing agency Westmoreland Flint, and AimClear, an online-focused marketing firm that was recognized by Inc. magazine in 2012 as one of the country’s 500 fastest-growing small companies. This year’s conference attracted 200 people from eight states.
- The Vital Conference, sponsored by Citon and telecom provider Charter Business, is an exposition and education event focusing on health care, finance, and business management.