The FBI office in Pocatello is expanding. On Thursday, the FBI broke ground on a $100 million data center.
Richard Haley, assistant director of finance and facilities with the FBI, said the new center will have racks, servers, mainframes and a lot of other high-tech equipment to be able to handle all types of mission sets and case investigations. Haley said the center will process information on anything from counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence to cyber security protections. It will also house things like finance and HR departments.
The new data center will also include an office complex and a conference room, to be used for training or any other necessities needed.
Haley said building this data center is part of a larger scale project.
“The project we’re moving forward with is a joint Department of Justice-FBI project to consolidate over 100 data centers that exist currently in the DOJ down to three centers,” Haley said. “We have another facility in West Virginia and along with this center, will make up our two major data centers.”
Haley said there were several reasons why the FBI felt Pocatello would be a great fit for the center.
“The quality of life, the environment, the schools, the infrastructure out here is very exciting for the FBI,” Haley said.
He explained that its a benefit for FBI employees to get out of high-cost living areas and be able to come to a community like Pocatello with their families.
“Really what we’re doing is creating a campus,” Haley said.
Haley also added that factors like cheaper gas and electricity costs were a draw to the Gate City too.
Haley said the reason for consolidating data centers is to be more effective and to save money.
“Many of these [centers] are in buildings that aren’t really designed for high technology type of equipment,” Haley said. “The air conditioning costs, the water, the rent costs that we’re spending – many of our facilities are in lease spaces.”
The current FBI building was recently expanded to allow for some additional workers. And now, the addition of the data center will add another 300 to 350 jobs, making the total employment at the Pocatello office around 500. Haley said that’s roughly the size of the Salt Lake City or Boston field offices.
The jobs and economy boost are just a few benefits for the cities of Pocatello and Chubbuck.
“Another really neat thing about this process and this project is we’ve not only been put on the map at the federal government level, we’ve also been put on the map with a number of IT and high-tech companies,” said Pocatello mayor Brian Blad.
Blad believes this could be a gateway to other companies coming in and further helping the workforce and economy. In fact, he said it already has. Buchanan & Edwards is coming to Pocatello, their decision largely based on the fact that the FBI is expanding and building the data center.
“There will certainly be benefits to Pocatello/Chubbuck,” said Chubbuck mayor Kevin England. “A lot of good high-paying jobs and probably, just as important as that, some real class act of people are going to be coming to our area. One of the fun things that’s been happening with this, is every time people come and visit here, they talk about how wonderful this area is, they’re excited. Many of them have moved here from the east coast and they absolutely love it here.”
“I believe that there are a number of opportunities for our communities as we move forward with this,” Blad added.
“They have told me on more than one occassion that this is going to become FBI headquarters west and so we need to recognize how big this really is,” England stated.
Haley said the FBI plans to have the data center completed in two years. Once its complete, the director of the FBI will come to Pocatello for a ribbon cutting on the new center.
Haley added the Pocatello office has been around since the early 1980s.