Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

September 1, 2012

North Pole and Kokomo

I was enjoying a cup of coffee when Emil walked into my office.

“Ed,” he called, “What do you think of the North Pole?”

Emil pulled out a clipping. “Let me read you this from Smithsonian magazine:

“‘With 900 million members worldwide and growing, Facebook is building its first European data storage facility — 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle in Lulea, Sweden. The reason: natural air conditioning. Some Internet “server farms” spend as much to cool the machines as power them.

“‘Facebook’s Nordic operation — which will eventually expand to three 290,000-square-foot buildings, each housing tens of thousands of servers — will save millions of dollars on electricity. Plus, the buildings are designed to capture some heat from the servers and use it to warm employee offices. The estimated cost of building the facilities is more than $700 million. Sweden hopes that construction subsidies and other incentives, including the promise of clean hydropower, will attract more digital companies to a region now being marketed as the “Node Pole”.’”

“So you are thinking that the high tech jobs are going to move north. Is that right?” I asked.

“Yep, and Facebook is a big business. Think about it. Facebook was responsible for the Arab Spring. When your youth group has announcements, how do you communicate it?” he asked.

“On Facebook,” I acquiesced.

“Out of 365 days a year, how many days would you say you check Facebook?” he interrogated.

“Well, at least 350. I might not on Christmas or when I am out of town.”

Emil had made his point.

“Yep,” he replied. “It makes sense for a lot of businesses to head north. Think I should apply up there?”

“No, I think you should stay put,” I offered. “Your job seems secure for now – you could get laid off up there, and then what would you do? Sell ice cubes?”

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