It was one for the record books. On October 5, 2017, social media giant Facebook announced it would directly invest $750 million to establish a 970,000-square-foot data center in eastern Henrico and with it, hundreds of millions of additional dollars would be invested in the construction of multiple solar facilities in the Commonwealth to service the center with 100 percent renewable energy. Facebook expects the multi-phase project to be completed in 2019, with a total investment estimated at $1 billion.
“Today’s announcement is one of the most exciting – and I can’t overstate this enough – in our county’s history,” said Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas at the announcement ceremony. Adding, “Facebook’s investment in our region and our state affirms what an extraordinary place our Commonwealth and our county is today, and will continue to be in the future.”
Why Henrico and White Oak Technology Park?
The Facebook announcement follows the recent Henrico County Board of Supervisors decision to dramatically reduce the property tax rate on computers and related equipment for data centers, but it took more than that to convince the social media giant to invest here.
“Virginia has been a home to the internet since the tech industry’s earliest days,” said Rachel Peterson, Director of Data Strategy for Facebook, during the announcement. “And thanks to Governor McAuliffe’s focus on making the Commonwealth a great place for investment, as well as Henrico County’s robust infrastructure and attractive business climate for data center development, we could not be more thrilled to locate our next data center here. When considering new data center locations, we not only look for clean and renewable energy solutions, but great partnerships within the local community, a strong pool of local talent, excellent access to fiber, and a robust electric grid. Henrico County and the Commonwealth of Virginia have it all.”
White Oak Technology Park: Fully Equipped for Data Centers
White Oak Technology Park is a master-planned, class A, high-tech/high-value manufacturing center located in the southeast quadrant of I-295 and I-64. It is zoned for industrial activities, including R&D, and offices/headquarters. All utilities (water, sewer, natural gas, electric power and fiber optics) are in place, with excess capacity available to support numerous industrial users well into the future. Leaders in technology, advanced manufacturing, data centers and distribution centers call White Oak Technology Park home – including QTS, Polykon, Anord CPI and more.
WHITE OAK TECHNOLOGY PARK AT A GLANCE
“One of the Most Advanced Energy- and Water-Efficient Data Centers in the World”
The project was also made possible through a new renewable energy tariff called Schedule RF, designed by Dominion Energy Virginia and Facebook. The tariff will allow large energy users, like Facebook, to meet their needs through the addition of renewable energy sources, reports Dominion Energy Virginia.
Petersen says that when completed, “the Henrico Data Center will be one of the most advanced energy- and water-efficient data centers in the world. We will use outdoor air to cool the servers instead of energy-intense air conditioners, and [the center] will be powered by 100 percent clean and renewable energy.”
Facebook’s Eastern Henrico Data Center: Job and Wage Impact
The Henrico Facebook Data Center will be constructed in phases on the 328-acre site near Technology Boulevard and Portugee Road in White Oak Technology Park, with the first phase of the construction to be a nearly one-million-square-foot data center equipped to accommodate 100 employees and contractors. Three other buildings will follow, totaling 1.5 million square feet of space planned for the site and bringing the overall square footage of the complex to 2.5 million.
The complex is expected to bring as many as 240 jobs once completed. And, notes Governor McAuliffe’s office, the construction of the center could impact as many as 1,688 local workers, providing up to $77.7 million in wages while producing $243.5 million in output along the local economy’s supply chain. (Learn more.)
Three-Year Collective Effort Pays Off
An economic win of this magnitude took three years of hard work by a large village working collectively together – and that is precisely what happened at the federal, state and local levels.
“I would like to thank Henrico County Manager, John Vithoulkas, the Executive Director of the Henrico EDA, Gary McLaren and the Henrico EDA team, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the other federal, state and local partners for their ongoing support,” said Petersen during the announcement ceremony:
On behalf of everyone in the Commonwealth, we say, “Welcome to Virginia, Facebook!”