Iron Mountain Data Center

The opening of the Iron Mountain Data Center in Prince William County in 2017. File photo, provided

Over the past several years, data centers have exploded in Northern Virginia, and business leaders say Prince William County should support the industry’s continued growth.

The Prince William Chamber of Commerce held a virtual panel discussion on Feb. 26 on the importance of data centers to the local economy.

Josh Levi, president of the Data Center Coalition, said Loudoun County leads Northern Virginia localities with more than 100 data center projects representing more than $14.1 billion in capital investment since 2015. Prince William County is second in the region with more than 50 projects representing $7.5 billion in capital investment.

Levi said data centers are an important driver for local tax revenue. He said they also add jobs, but the job growth isn’t enough to overburden local services.

“The county’s getting the jobs and the benefits of those revenues without the additional burden of vehicles or additional burdens to schools,” said Theresa Pattara, chief compliance officer with Iron Mountain Data Centers.

Based on 2018 data, Levi said the industry led to 1,786 full-time jobs and $292 million in economic output in the county. The average salary of those jobs was more than $127,000.

Related construction provided $615 million in investment and 1,222 jobs.

Tom Shumaker, executive vice president of Holder Construction Co., said a project could have 500 to 800 employees on site and four times as many involved off-site. He said data centers are getting larger, which will lead to more jobs.

Levi said the industry invested $2.4 billion in the county in 2020, which represented 94% of all capital investment in the county at the time. The businesses led to $64 million in tax revenue in 2020.

Tag Greason, chief hyperscale officer for QTS, said the company has data centers in three localities in Virginia, including Prince William. He said the county was chosen because it has a stable business environment, available land and a skilled workforce.

Donna Oldham, manager of community engagement for Amazon Web Services, said the companies are also invested in their communities, highlighting Amazon’s support for educational programs.

Levi said data centers are also likely to include a renewable energy component because energy is a huge part of their expenses. Oldham said the energy focus reiterates a company’s support for the community.

“It's good for our business and our community,” she said.

Greason said the county’s continued support for data centers will ensure their long-term investment.

“When you are going into a county, you will ultimately invest in that county,” he said. “What I love about Prince William is the stability and knowing I can go into the county and invest there and be there for a decade. … I think that’s the guiding principle for the future of data centers.”

Jared Foretek covers the Manassas area and regional news across Northern Virginia. Reach him at jforetek@insidenova.com

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(6) comments

Sharon Fontanella

Please, Inside NOVA, contact the county staff and get an official statement that tells the public about the amount of property in the current data center overlay yet to be developed. Show the public the overlay as it is today and what has been developed and what is planned to be developed. How many more data centers can be accommodated within the current data center overlay? Explain to the public why Supervisor Angry is proposing more data centers (and distribution centers) outside of the overlay and in the Rural Crescent. Evidently Loudoun county has a large data center presence while preserving their agriculture and rural lands. Co-locating data centers with power lines doesn't mean there is sufficient power to support more data centers. Tell the public how many operational data centers already exist in the county, how many people are currently employed by them, and exactly how much tax revenue has been generated by data centers so far in this county? Why does Supervisor Angry support raising real estate taxes but no increase for data centers? It is important for the media to present all sides of an issue.

FixPrinceWilliam

Hawkeye and Mr. Weaver, par for the course. Here are your options: data centers, strip malls, mega mansions, Amazon shipping warehouses. The claim from the BOS for the past 20 years was growth is good and we'll increase tax base. Nothing has changed. My guess is that it's starting to creep into your neck-of-the-woods.

Hawkeye10

It's not, its just this is their way of backtracking on the R.C. and invading it. I disagree with this approach.If they wanted data centers, they should have planned 15-20 years ago and designated areas for their data centers, not invade the R.C. Poor planning on their part. But they dont care, thats the issue.

Hawkeye10

The good of the R.C. outweighs the bad plotting these data centers there. Your literally excavating pristine resources wanted and needed by all residents of our county, especially as it pertains to the watershed. It leaves a big scar and a deep impact. Its not worth it in the long run. Which is why the R.C. was created! It should not be exploited to such a dismal magnitude.

JimiWeaver4

What is not reported in the article, or touted by the Chamber, is the fact that almost all jobs associated with these monstrosities happen during their construction.

Once built, each one of these huge wastes of valuable real estate employ at most 5 to 10 people with the preponderance being low paid security guards.

With the added benefit that most are the ugliest buildings ever designed.

Hawkeye10

In addition, this article is biased from the get go. Its the Chambers job, in collaboration with the PWC government department of economics and Development to land these data centers in the first place. Everyone who makes this happen is taken well care of.

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