Founded by local businessmen, AUBix LLC plans to open a new $120 million data center in Auburn that is expected to provide key infrastructure and a technological edge for its tenants while benefiting communities across Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey announced on Monday.
The 40,000 square-foot facility, which is already under construction and will be located on Samford Avenue, is designed to bring technological parity to underserved communities throughout the state, according to a news release from the governor's office.
"This investment is evidence that Alabama continues to grow its high-tech footprint and the innovation capacity of its economy," said Ivey.
AUBix LLC is building an edge data center, which brings the internet exchanges and fiber optics closer to the communities they serve instead of relying solely on data centers in urban areas, like Atlanta. Applications and entities, like hospitals, universities, and platforms like Amazon, would be brought closer to the end user, improving the speed because fiber optics have shorter routes to transmit the information.
In essence, the building of an edge data center would be akin to adding an exit on the digital interstate that would improve speed and efficiency for the surrounding areas.
"Our goal is to provide customers with secure and compliant infrastructure to host internet applications locally, as well as significantly higher internet speeds and the choice of national/global carriers who compete for their business," said Andrew Albrecht, co-founder and CEO of AUBix. "In turn, that will attract new businesses to the state, support all levels of academic initiatives and research, and bring value to the communities we serve."
The AUBix data center will also have Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, which will help the company draw in local healthcare entities, banks and other businesses that deal with sensitive information.
Bringing a data center to Auburn made sense to Albrecht, who graduated from Auburn University, played on the school's baseball team, met his wife on The Plains and recently moved back to Auburn in 2018 after working in Atlanta for more than 20 years.
"We have been underserved in this region of the I-85 corridor for too long in connectivity for simple broadband services, for wireless services, for advanced wireless services, and an asset like AUBix will begin to level that, create parity between the rural markets and some of the larger markets and suburban markers around tier one markets," said Albrecht. "If you're an Auburn man or Auburn woman, there's a certain passion — to be in Auburn, to be contributing to the development of Auburn and bringing technology.
"It takes a village. It takes the cooperation of Mayor (Ron) Anders and Mayor (Gary) Fuller and even the state to bring assets like this to a rural area. You do it right, you're creating good for the whole community. And if you do it right, you create a legacy. And the nicest thing that could be said is AUBix accelerated the digital development of the region, and that would be a blessing."
The project to form AUBix and bring it to Auburn began in March of 2020, said Albrecht, who added that he then talked to stakeholders in the region, including Anders, Fuller, Auburn University officials and industries along I-85, as well as Auburn Economic Development Director Phillip Dunlap and the Auburn Industrial Development Board.
"They understand what this is going to do to them, to the city, recruiting economic development and bringing technology companies to Auburn," said Albrecht, who added that Auburn met the three requirements for technology to come into a region in his industry — quality of life; access to human capital and a trained workforce; and connectivity.
"It's a significant piece of infrastructure," said Dunlap at Tuesday's City Council meeting. "It allows us to have access to very high-speed internet.
"It will give us an opportunity to compete for more knowledge-based jobs, IT jobs and more sophisticated investment, so it is very significant."
Construction of the AUBix site is expected to be completed in December, with the company ready to serve its customers in January, said Albrecht.