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Facebook chose Henrico for $750M data center after Loudoun dropped out of the running

Courtesy Image/Facebook
Facebook will invest $750 million to build a 970,000-square-foot data center in the White Oak Technology Park in Henrico County, state officials announced last week, a project for which Loudoun County was initially a contender.

The data center is slated to bring thousands of construction jobs to the Richmond region and more than 100 full-time operational jobs.

Overall, McAuliffe said Facebook will bring more than $1 billion of new investment to Virginia.

The move comes as Henrico County has ramped up its efforts this year to attract more data centers by significantly reducing its tax rate on computers and equipment related to data centers, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

The newspaper reported that the Henrico County Board of Supervisors earlier this year cut the tax rate for data center equipment by nearly 90 percent — from $3.50 per $100 of assessed value to just 40 cents per $100.

Loudoun County’s tax rate on computer equipment is $4.20.

Loudoun’s Executive Director of Economic Development Buddy Rizer told the Times-Mirror that Loudoun was “very involved” when the bid for the new data center came into the market.

However, Rizer said, once it was evident Loudoun and the social media giant were “going down different directions,” the county decided not to pursue it.

“We wanted to capture [the Facebook data center] here in the commonwealth of Virginia, and not every deal is exactly the same, and I think that we always try to win for Loudoun first, but then if we can’t win it for Loudoun, we want to win it for Virginia,” Rizer said.

Earlier this year, analysts covering the data center industry indicated that Facebook planned to build a data center in Loudoun County's Data Center Alley as part of the company's push to expand its infrastructure.

Officials from the social media giant declined to confirm the reports, but
the company's careers page published a job posting stating that it was looking for an “experienced construction project manager to join their data center engineering and construction team” in Ashburn.

Facebook currently leases nearly 45,000 square feet and 7.5 megawatts of critical load at a Dupont Fabros data center in Ashburn.

With the help of a new renewable energy tariff designed by Dominion Energy Virginia and Facebook, hundreds of millions of additional dollars will be used toward the construction of multiple solar facilities in the commonwealth that will service Facebook’s Henrico data center with 100 percent renewable energy.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe's office said the Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Henrico County, the county’s Economic Development Authority and the General Assembly’s Major Employment and Investment (MEI) Project Approval Commission to land the project.

“I am proud to welcome Facebook to Henrico County, and we look forward to a strong partnership,” said McAuliffe. “When an industry giant like Facebook selects Virginia for a major operation, it’s proof that our efforts to build an open and welcoming economy that works for everyone are paying off.”

“For many years, Virginia has served as a key hub for global internet traffic, emerging as one of the most active data center markets in the world,” McAuliffe said.

A U.S. Chamber of Commerce data center study this year estimated that construction of a data center the same size as the one in Henrico County will employ up to 1,688 local workers, provide up to $77.7 million in wages and produce $243.5 million in output along the local economy’s supply chain during construction.

The same study estimates an annual injection of $32.5 million into the economy once construction is complete.

Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @SydneyKashiwagi.


“Probably half” - that is your scientific assessment to call the U.S. Chamber of Commerce study bunk?

You know what a $3.10 tax rate on nothing equals? Nothing.

Henrico is thinking three steps ahead. Congrats to them.

The current data centers are nothing but a blight on eastern Loudoun.

They occupy huge parcels of prime real estate, provide very few jobs, and eat tones of resources (power/water).  Not to mention being unnecessarily ugly.

And with the current push to lower the tax rate sure to be successful, they won’t even be a good source of revenue.

I call this study BS. First, probably half of the construction workers will be paid under the table, thus no federal/state income tax from employee and employer. And since they lowered the tax rate($3.10), the county will lose $30 million/year on taxes. Only 100 employees once open, only good tax from these data centers are the equipment.

This is exactly why LoCo will never get the Amazon second HQ. LoCo is too expensive and would not serve Amazon well at all. Maybe they will look at Henrico and Goochland too. Much cheaper than LoCo whose greed by past BOS created a monster and it is too late to put it back into the bottle! This is big news…

What the heck does “going down different directions,”  mean? I can’t believe the reporter let that go. What, exactly, does Henrico get out of this, other than ~100 jobs, after they cut their tax rate to essentially nil?

Let them have it!  Without tax revenue, all they will get is a drag on other taxpayers and county services.  Not many jobs in a data center and little value to a county, other than tax revenue.  Give that up & you get nothing.

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