Virginia emerges as a model for tech economy

A look inside RagingWire data center in Ashburn.

The growth of the data center community has increased to bring thousands of jobs and tax revenue to Loudoun County, and now plans are being made to rebrand the data center corridor.

In the coming year, Loudoun County’s Department of Economic Development will conduct a branding review of the data center cluster in Loudoun and explore potential branding and signage campaigns as directed by the county’s Board of Supervisors on Dec. 17.

Broad Run Supervisor Ron Meyer (R), who is wrapping up his term this month, requested county staff report back its findings at a future board meeting. The motion was approved with an 8-0-1 vote. Catoctin Supervisor Geary Higgins (R) was absent for the vote earlier this month.

“There's nothing to inform you that most of the world's internet is running through Ashburn. There is nothing that informs you that this is the home of the ‘cloud,’ and so I think it's important that we do some sort of signage that says, ‘Hey you're in the home of the Internet,’ and I would like us come up with a term that is fitting for the area,” Meyer said.

Meyer has previously expressed he's not fond of the unofficial moniker "data center alley."

Included in the Board of Supervisors' direction is for county staff to consider a roadside sign or monument to support the branding efforts. Areas for signage could include major thoroughfares such as Route 28, Route 7, Waxpool Road and Loudoun County Parkway.

The first set of data centers started in the area of Waxpool Road and Loudoun County Parkway in Ashburn in the 1990s, according to county staff. 

There are currently more than 70 data centers in Loudoun.

In recent years county leaders and industry professionals have worked to improve the often off-putting appearance of data centers.

“I think that there's certainly some good things that can come from acknowledging what we've succeeded in attracting to the corridor,” Loudoun Economic Development Director Buddy Rizer said. “We don't know exactly what that looks like at this point, but I look forward to spending some time in the new year trying to figure out exactly the best way to do that.”

Data Center Coalition President Josh Levi added, “Loudoun County has the largest data center market in the world. Building visibility around the importance of the industry and all of the economic and community benefits that follow certainly makes sense. The county has a world-class economic development team, and we look forward to reviewing their recommendations and providing feedback.”

Approximately $320 million in direct tax revenue has come from the data center industry in the current fiscal year, according to county staff. Recent estimates state that more than 13,000 jobs are currently associated with the Loudoun data center cluster. 

While promoting data centers is important, Loudoun Technology Coalition Chairman Marty Shoup said, Shoup believes this is an important moment to promote the county’s entire business industry.

“I don’t think Loudoun County has done a great job of promoting itself as being a destination for high-tech companies,” Shoup said. " ... It’s worthwhile examining the possible benefits of a ‘Data Center Alley' branding initiative, but we need to be careful of how we promote ourselves to be more inclusive of different types of technology firms, not just data centers.”

(20) comments

CroakerNorge

Data Center Alley should be renamed Lit City, full stop.

beubie

Cloudoun County works for me.

DH51

We have Warp Dr, now need “Cloud City”

Dcguy

Cloud City is pretty good!

Iluvloudoun

Sure that’s smart. Put up a sign for possible terrorists to know where the targets are located.

amerigirl

A roadside sign or monument seems like a big ,X, on a map for terrorists

scottva

Agreed 1000%

LetSanityPrevail

It is already well known that Loudoun hosts nearly 80% of all the internet traffic in the US. Nothing that isn’t already public knowledge. The question I have is with the advancement of storage and processing technology whether all these facilities will wind up being unused and be like the empty factories in the northeast. Might make good condos if retrofitted.

Dcguy

The oldest ones here are 25 years old and still useful. Servers and storage get more dense in terms of power, so you just spread the load out more, or you turn parts of the DCs into office or operations center or storage. Pretty common.

Dcguy

Everyone knows where these data centers are. They are both physically very tough and geographically distributed. They are very hard targets. Which is probably why no one has ever tried to take one out

More Cowbell

Wonder how many of those babysitting the data actually have any significant background check?

Dcguy

Yes, everyone has a very complete background check. All the data is encrypted in any case.

amerigirl

That's not how terrorism works though. Makes m feel better though.

debbbie

Interesting how the BOS can't negotiate the "Home of the Internet" to provide modern broadband service 15 miles away to Western Loudoun.

Dcguy

$320m will pay for a lot of broadband. Of course, it's a tax on east Loudoun for the benefit of West Loudoun.

amerigirl

But the west has been paying their taxes that the east has gotten many advantages from.

Chris McHale

Wow. The out going BOS is doing everything possible to stick it to the tax payers of Loudoun. A monument, seriously for what?

John M

Haha...just wait and see what the incoming BOS does to your wallet. Taxes, taxes, taxes!

Dcguy

Well, since the data centers are paying an increasing share of the taxes, only some of us will feel it

Dcguy

Branding is pretty standard for business zones which product 300m++ revenue. Ron M is a grandstanding politician but this isnt outside the scope of a reasonable practice

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for reading!

Please purchase a subscription to read our premium content. If you have a subscription, please log in or sign up for an account on our website to continue.