The Data Knight 365 soap opera continues

Floyd County Commerce Park
The proposed location for a data center at Floyd County’s Commerce Park

To the suprise of some, Data Knight 365, on the last day of a deadline, delivered a set of documents required for closing on a deal to purchase 51.5 acres of land in Floyd County’s Commerce Park for a proposed $67.8 million data center.

The documents identified Ohio Amish businessman William W. Byler as the sole owner of the company, created in April of this year. Gone from the deal is telemarketer Dan Delfino and his Cleveland-based company, Power Direct. Also absent from any principal role, the documents claim, is Paul Allen, the English promoter arrived in town with his nonstop hyperbole, baggage from past failed deals and involvement in a loan kiting scheme that threatened to bring down a 105-year-old family-owned bank in Tennessee.

The county’s Economic Development Authority, meeting behind closed doors for nearly 90 minutes, decided to go ahead with the deal and scheduled closing for Friday — if DK3 comes with a certified check for a $100,000 down payment on the $900,000 land purchase. (UPDATE 10-23-09: The deal did not close on Friday as scheduled because Data Knight could not come up with the $100,000. I’ll have details in next week’s Floyd Press.)

While closing on the deal would be a major step in what has become a county-wide guessing game of “will they or won’t they?” there remains a lot of questions about whether or not a data center will ever open in Floyd County. Most of the players involved in DK3 deal have been involved in similar grand plans in other states but we can find no record that any data center ever actually opened.

And county officials retrenched on a major criteria when they agreed to go forward without the participation of Power Direct and Delfino, which EDA chairman Jack Russell and County Administrator Dan Campbell in August called “key” to the deal.

Campbell and Russell feel the county is protected even if the deal falls through. A tightly-written performance agreement calls for the DK3 to meet a series of milestones. Failure to meet those deadlines voids the deal and any money paid to that date, along with any improvements to the land, revert to the county, which holds the deed of trust on the property.

While the county would appear protected, some question whether the government should continue to do business with DK3, given the lack of a track record and concerns about the ethics of those involved with the company. While Byler says Allen is not a principal in the company, he continues to work with Byler and has become a frequent visitor to Floyd once again.

I hope I’m wrong about these guys. A data center would be good for the county. It’s a non-polluting business and could, if it becomes reality, provide $3 million or more in taxes to the financially government budget, but my gut tells me that Floyd County will eventually regret getting involved with DK3. The questions outnumber the answers and too many grandiose promises have been made.

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