When Sheila Tyson asked DC BLOX CEO Jeff Uphues what his company could do for the Titusville Neighborhood it was joining, he offered a fun day in the neighboring park.
Tyson, the Jefferson County commissioner in whose district the company sits, had other ideas. “We want you to invest in our children’s education,” she said.
As DC BLOX held the grand opening of its data center on Thursday, Uphues talked about a $10,000 investment in a computer lab just across Sixth Street at Memorial Park Recreation Center.
“Commissioner Tyson said … our people need help in computers,” he said. “We leaned in and we sponsored a computer lab for the Titusville Community and the community center. We donated computers, we donated tables, we donated support, we donated printers and we set up the facility that can be used by the entire community.”
Residents also have received an invitation into the DC BLOX facility on an as-needed basis to put their hands on technology. The hope, the CEO said, is that exposure will help train tomorrow’s leaders by rising everybody up through a better understanding of technology.
DC BLOX is providing a shot of innovation for the entire region too, he said.
“This community is just one small step in the ability to do that,” Uphues said. “Our overall vision is how do we serve locally and connect globally? Serving to us means we engage the people in the community and understand the needs.”
Those needs include learning to write computer codes and to partner with TechBirmingham and Innovation Depot and other community leaders.
The long-idle site in North Titusville now houses a pair of 9,000-square-foot data halls and room for future expansion. There is a 13,000-square-foot, two-story office area, perimeter security fencing and a gated security entrance.
The grand opening came a year and two days after the announcement that the tech company was coming to town.
“This really speaks to the direction of the Birmingham region and also the state of Alabama are moving into,” said Greg Canfield, the Alabama secretary of commerce. “We’re creating more opportunity for job creation that is bringing opportunities and STEM opportunities and high-paying careers for Alabamians.”
Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens was among the dignitaries who spoke at Thursday’s event.
“With a projected capital investment of $785 million over 10 years, it will definitely push our tech scene to the national level,” Stephens said. “The economic impact of this project is estimated to be $99 million for our state.”
Said Uphues: “We view the DC BLOX technology and innovation campus as the nexus of connectivity for all of Alabama. Most all of the network providers that traverse the state – that’s AT&T, that’s Verizon, that’s Century Link, Windstream, Unity – they all are sitting on our campus.”
DC BLOX currently has a dozen employees after committing to 20 jobs as a minimum as part of the incentive package it was offered.
“Obviously, if we grow much bigger, we’re going to have a lot more employees,” Uphues said.
This story has been corrected to show the company made a $10,000 investment in the computer lab, not $100,000.