Announcement on pyramid’s future expected Monday


GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) – An announcement about a potential new owner for the old Steelcase pyramid is expected Monday, sources tell 24 Hour News 8.

Sources said Wednesday that Switch is considering building its East Coast hub at the pyramid in Gaines Township.

The company would likely bring visitors to the area, many through Gerald R Ford International Airport. However, sources told 24 Hour News 8 previous reports that the company would draw 1,700 visitors a week to the area are exaggerated.

Those sources also said the number of jobs the new venture would bring is still being worked out, and that any estimates are merely speculation at this point.

Sources confirm to 24 Hour News 8 that Switch would like invest between $5 and $10 billion in the area if the venture moves forward.

However, a spokesman for the Nevada-based company said he couldn’t confirm the plan.

Switch is a technology company that provides cloud storage service. It currently operates in Las Vegas and Reno.

“They are really quite an amazing company.” says James VanderMey, Open Systems Technology Chief Innovations Officer.

VanderMey knows Switch well. He’s done business with them and he’s been in their facilities.

“The new value creators of Amazon, and Ebay and Google and Facebook, they live in places like this,” VanderMey told 24 Hour News 8.

Switch, which is known for its sustainable practices, may find West Michigan’s green, LEED-certified facilities attractive.

If Switch and its Supernap Data Center establish a hub here, the impact could extend beyond the iconic pyramid at 60th Street and East Paris.

According to VanderMey, Switch’s cloud centers traditionally hire entry-level workers that eventually will make West Michigan’s workforce even stronger.

Sources tell 24 Hour News 8 the number of jobs the new venture would bring is still being worked out, and that any estimates are merely speculation at this point.

“[They’re] fantastic entry-level jobs, which replace the typical blue-collar jobs on the factory floor,” said VanderMey. “And as those people get more skilled, then they’re going to move into more advanced capabilities, which then creates a pool of talent for all of the businesses in West Michigan.”

Open Systems Technology is one of many West Michigan companies who could serve an operation like Switch.

“We provide services to enterprise organizations, and so our largest customers are actually cloud service providers and content providers. And those are the kinds of companies that will be located in the Switch data center.” said VanderMey.

Now the race is on in Lansing to pass tax incentives needed to beat out competition from other states for Switch. However, the deal doesn’t hinge on tax breaks alone.

“They’re going to be looking at things like cost of power. They’re going to look at a labor pool. They’re going to look at cost of doing business. They’re going to look at internet connectivity and the availability of optic fiber,” explained VanderMey.

The company may even investigate geological features to avoid areas that are in earthquake zones.

Legislators will need to pass a tax incentive bill in Lansing in order to make the deal final, they have until the end of the year but do not return from break until next month.

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