The St. Louis County Board on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to changing the city of Duluth's JOBZ tax-free and tax increment financing zones to make room for the proposed Involta data storage center.
The Iowa-based company is proposing a $13.6 million facility with an estimated 100 jobs near the intersection of Arrowhead Road and Rice Lake Road in what city officials call the Duluth Technology Park.
Local economic development officials want the change to offer Involta a JOBZ state income, sales and property tax incentive and a change in the tax increment financing property tax incentive. The city, county and Duluth School Board all must approve the plans.
The board's committee of the whole moved the project forward Tuesday, but final board action is expected June 28 at a meeting in Ely. County approval would allow moving about 14 acres of JOBZ qualified area out of the Atlas cement site in Morgan Park to the Technology Park area behind UnitedHealthcare.
Involta, No. 40 on Inc. Magazine's 500 list of the fastest-growing private companies last year, announced earlier this year it had picked Duluth for its next expansion. Jeff Quint,
Involta's chief financial officer, appeared before the Duluth Economic Development Authority in May to highlight his company's plans.
Involta, based in Cedar Rapids, houses clients' critical information data systems in secure data storage centers. It's part of an emerging industry that establishes centers in less congested areas of the Midwest, away from the dangers of natural disasters, terrorism and civil unrest. Data firms typically pick sites away from trains, freeways, flight paths and combustibles. Involta established data storage centers in Iowa before expanding in Akron, Ohio, last year.
The company has said Duluth's cool weather will save them money on air conditioning costs for its electronic equipment.