$200 million mystery: Which company is considering a data center in Sarpy County? - Omaha.com
Published Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 3:43 pm
$200 million mystery: Which company is considering a data center in Sarpy County?

Sarpy County is positioning itself to try to land a $200 million data center, code-named Project Oasis, north of Springfield.

Few people know the identity of the company, and those who do know have signed nondisclosure agreements.

But the Sarpy County Board will decide today whether to apply for $750,000 in state incentives to help build roads, water lines and sewers to a data center that would sit on the southwest corner of 144th Street and Schram Road.

“This whole thing came up real fast,” board Chairman Jim Warren said.

The Sarpy County Economic Development Corp. has worked for months to lure the company.

Last year, it signed a two-year purchase option on the 140-acre parcel, according to county records. As competition for data centers has ramped up, local economic development officials have been trying to get sites ready.

Sarpy County Administrator Mark Wayne said he has been in the loop for five to six months but doesn't know the name of the company, either. More information will be revealed in time, he said.

The hope is to have a development agreement in place by September. “This is not all cut in stone yet,” he said.

The county's planning commission has approved rezoning the parcel as light industrial and platting an adjacent site for a new Omaha Public Power District substation, Wayne said.

The substation is not necessarily contingent on Project Oasis, OPPD spokesman Mike Jones said, “but we are going to support Sarpy County in its economic development efforts.”

Toby Churchill, executive director of the Sarpy County Economic Development Corp., said he wouldn't comment “on projects that we may or may not be working on.”

County documents show that Churchill prepared the application for a $750,000 state infrastructure grant fund overseen by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

He referred comments to Karla Ewert, a spokeswoman for the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, who declined to comment. A deputy director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development also declined to comment.

Under the proposal, the county would pay $651,000 to extend a mile and a half of sewer line. The company would be responsible for normal per-acre sewer fees when the site was platted and built.

The county would also bear two-thirds of the cost to pave Schram Road from 144th to 150th Street, an expense that has been built into the county's upcoming roads budget, Wayne said. Sewer extension costs would be paid out of the sewer fund.

“We'd have to figure out how to do (the sewers),” Wayne said. “We might have to take out a loan, because we wouldn't want to use property tax dollars for that.”

County Board member Tom Richards of Bellevue said a data center would be an economic boon for the area.

“Data centers traditionally don't have a lot of jobs involved, but they're good-paying jobs,” he said. “And all of these data centers have the capability of expanding to more than they initially hire.”

Richards, who manages government and community relations at OPPD, knows the company's identity but can't reveal it. In the grant application, it is described only as a Fortune 200 company.

There are hints of competition for the project. In February, officials in Altoona, Iowa — the same Des Moines suburb that beat Kearney, Neb., for a $300 million data center for Facebook — said they had been in discussions with a company about a data center.

The code name? Project Oasis.

Altoona officials didn't return calls, and Iowa Economic Development spokeswoman Tina Hoffman declined to comment.


Project better name

Sarpy County is trying to land Project Oasis, a $200 million data center north of Springfield. Meantime, you can still audition for the job of person-who-code-names-secret-economic-development-projects. In one or two words, what would you call the next big hush-hush project that comes to the metro area?

PROJECT

See what other people are suggesting

Contact the writer: Cody Winchester

cody.winchester@owh.com    |   402-444-1216    |  

Cody Winchester is a metro-area watchdog reporter. He covers Douglas and Sarpy Counties.

Iowa State servers hacked, nearly 30,000 SSNs at risk
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
2nd District House race: After 8 terms, Lee Terry knows how D.C. works — and doesn't
Bellevue man is killed at Minnesota dance hall after South Sudanese basketball tourney
Spring corn planting still sputters in Nebraska, Iowa, other key states
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
19-year-old killed in one-vehicle crash at 72nd & Shirley
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
U.S. Senate race: State Auditor Mike Foley defends Shane Osborn against ad campaign
Public defender to represent Nikko Jenkins in sentencing
Mid-America Center on track for lower operating loss
Bluffs City Council approves dozens of new numbered street lights
National Law Enforcement Memorial Week set for May
Lori Jenkins, charged as accessory in 4 murders, waives speedy trial
Ted Cruz backs Pete Ricketts' campaign for governor
Omahan charged with 5th-offense DUI after street race causes rollover
2 blocks of Grover Street closed
Safety board report blames pilot error in 2013 crash that killed UNO student, passenger
Omaha man accused in shooting ordered held on $75,000 bail
2 men charged with conspiracy to distribute meth held on $1 million bail each
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
La Vista plans meeting on sales tax proposal, 84th Street redevelopment
6-mile stretch of Highway 75 is the road not taken
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Millard school board bans e-cigarettes from all district properties, events
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Breaking Brad: Kraft wiener recall is business opportunity for TD Ameritrade Park
Instead of returning the wieners, TD Ameritrade Park is calling them "cheese dogs" and charging double.
Breaking Brad: Photos with the Easter Bunny are so 2010
In a sign of the times, most kids ran out of patience waiting for a photo with the Easter Bunny at the mall, just snapped a selfie and went home.
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Steam-A-Way Carpet Cleaning
$50 for 3 rooms and a Hallway up to 600 square feet
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »