Regional telecommunications provider Ritter Communications broke ground and broadened its horizons Tuesday.
The company celebrated the start of construction on its $8 million cloud and data storage facility in Jonesboro. The 8,882-SF Ritter Communications Data Technology Center is billed as the first of its kind in the Mid-South and underscores Ritter's efforts to extend customer access beyond larger population centers.
The new construction is also reflective of a worldwide, internet technology trend toward stepping outside dedicated corporate offices into multi-use facilities, Ritter President Alan Morse said.
"We're bringing this data technology center to northeast Arkansas to ensure that our customers have access to a world class facility without having to look toward Memphis, Little Rock or St. Louis," Morse said. "And, we believe that our investment in this facility will enhance economic development opportunities because when companies consider our region for expansion or relocation, they want to see fiber-optic data connectivity and secure data center facilities.
"Now Ritter Communications can offer both."
The data center will include a data operations center and offer data security and privacy certifications, advanced business services and cloud solutions.
Construction is underway on Mayfield Drive, behind Ritter headquarters at 2400 Ritter Drive. Colorado-based CTA Architects and Engineers designed the center and provides engineering services, and will jointly manage construction with Conway-based Nabholz Construction.
The projected completion date is for the middle of next year.
Founded in Marked Tree, Ritter began providing phone service locally in 1906. In addition to its Jonesboro headquarters and Marked Tree location, Ritter has offices or facilities in Searcy, Blytheville, Jasper, Harrison; Millington, Tennessee; and Munford, Tennessee.
Its most recent move was in 2017, when Ritter signed a five-year lease for space in the Little Rock Technology Park.
The new data center could create 20 jobs and will serve customers in northeast Arkansas and western Tennessee. Morse said the new construction fills a need often stated by businesses looking to set up shop in the Jonesboro area.
"We know that when the chamber of commerce goes and interviews businesses or when they bring in business to tour Jonesboro, they ask about fiber optic connectivity which we already provide," Morse said. "And they ask about data center services as well."
Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said his involvement with the National League of Cities and the Arkansas Municipal League has spotlighted a major interest in "smart cities" as business locations.
Chris Barber, St. Bernard's Healthcare CEO and chairman of Jonesboro Unlimited, agreed that big data and technology were attractive to potential, incoming businesses and said it allows Jonesboro to "check a box" when trying to interest entities who want to invest in the city.