A little more than a year after announcing plans for a Jackson data center, Baton Rogue’s Venyu Solutions is set to begin converting the former McRae’s Department Store on Meadowbrook Road into the technology company’s fourth data storage and cloud-based data center.
“We plan to open about this time next year,” Tommy Curb, executive vice president of business development and assistant general counsel, said of the more than 67,000-square-foot center at the corner of State Street and Meadowbrook Road.
Since announcing its plans in May 2014, Venyu has added the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s telehealth operation as a tenant in a new 16,000-square-foot building it will lease to UMMC.
Curb said Venyu expects the complex, billed as the Venyu Technology Center, to create 398 jobs over five years and an estimated 192 jobs in its first year of operation. “The vast majority of these are health-care-related positions with approximately 30 to 40 direct jobs from Venyu,” he said in an email.
The job numbers do not include the approximate 50 current UMMC telehealth employees who will move to the location when it is complete, Curb added.
Venyu Solutions said data storage equipment purchases and the conversion of the circa 1960 former Fondren store property represent a $35 million investment. The center will join two sister facilities in Baton Rouge and one in Shreveport. The Jackson building will include HVAC units on a second floor for cooling of the storage equipment, Venyu said.
Curb attributed the lengthy wait to begin construction to coordinating Venyu’s efforts with UMMC’s telehealth plans. “It has taken some time to bring all the elements of both projects to this point,” he said in an email.
The data center requires extensive buildout, according to Curb.
For one, the structure must be fortified to withstand the wind forces of a strong hurricane.
In an interview soon after the 2014 announcement, Curb said the center expects to draw business from metro Jackson companies needing off-site data storage. “Some businesses in Jackson want to be closer to their [data] infrastructure” but don’t necessarily want the storage to be on their premises, he said in that interview.
Other companies such as ones on the Eastern Seaboard prefer data to be stored in less weather-vulnerable locations. Jackson fills that need, he added.
Disaster recovery services are one of several Venyu offerings the center will make possible. These include cloud hosting, cloud backup and co-location space to host company networking devices, Venyu said.
UMMC’s Dr. Kristi Henderson, chief telehealth and innovation officer, said in a post on UMMC’s website the Center for Telehealth will enable the medical center to bring health care to communities at workplaces, schools and homes. “This new center will give us the space to meet the demand and serve as a center of excellence for Mississippi’s telehealth,” Henderson said.
The telehealth program averages 8,000 consultations a month, according to Henderson, who cited the figure as a sign of the growing importance of telehealth in Mississippi, especially in its rural regions.
Telehealth services specialize in online video and other technology that collects health-care data to provide medical care, wellness care and public health services. The program functions as a virtual clinic — including direct medical diagnostics and treatment from physicians, specialists, and nurses, and even dispensation of pharmaceuticals.
The leased building’s specifications include:
» A Telehealth operations center to facilitate and provide telehealth services to hospitals, clinics, corporations, correctional facilities, and other entities throughout Mississippi;
» Center for telehealth technology operations and call center, administration and support services;
» A remote patient monitoring center to monitor and provide care for patients in their homes using mobile technology;
» An innovation living lab to serve as an incubator for innovation and solutions at the intersection of technology and health care; and
» A work-force development training center with a focus on health care and technology development.