It’s Ashburn’s 60-plus data centers that have popped up in recent years that has earned the area that designation, and business leaders and state and county officials gathered Thursday to celebrate the industry’s continued growth.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10), Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones and others attended a groundbreaking ceremony at Equinix Inc.’s soon-to-be expanded campus, just off Loudoun County Parkway in Ashburn.
In the backdrop of the ceremony, excavators and dump trucks rolled through the construction site that will house another 40 acres of data center facilities.
Equinix has been in Loudoun for 17 years, and employs 200 people at its 32-acre facility. It purchased the 40-acre lot next door to build what the company calls its North Ashburn Interconnected Business Exchange. The expansion equates to a total $1 billion investment and will create another 200 jobs, according to Howard Horowitz, senior vice president of Global Real Estate.
“That’s something we’re proud of,” Horowitz said.
Thursday’s groundbreaking event was not only designed to formally kick off Equinix’s expansion, but also to celebrate the industry’s success as a whole.
Eight years ago, when Loudoun’s Economic Development Director Buddy Rizer first came to the county, Ashburn was home to just a few data centers. But Rizer saw opportunity for more.
Now, up to 70 percent of the world’s Internet traffic flows through servers in the data centers in Ashburn daily. There are so many data centers there that the county put in a special water line that they can use to cool their facilities.
The multiplying of data centers helped the county attract more than $1.3 billion of new commercial investment in the last year, more than any other Virginia jurisdiction, said Rizer, who’s referred to himself in the past as “Mr. Data Center.”
“You know there are states that haven’t done that,” he said.
McAuliffe told those gathered that the boom of the data center industry also had a hand in bringing in $8 billion in new capital to Virginia in the past 18 months and achieving the lowest unemployment rate in eight years. The latest reports show the rate at 4.5 percent.
“That’s extraordinary,” the governor added. “We are really cranking it on economic development.”
Comstock said she was an early supporter of Loudoun’s tech market. When she served in the state House of Delegates, she championed legislation that provides tax incentives for data centers, and she said she would continue to support the industry at the federal level.
“I love our data centers,” the congresswoman said. “I would start a data center caucus in Congress, but I don’t want anyone else finding out about this.”
A completion date for Equinix’s expansion has not yet been set, according to a spokeswoman with the company. Learn more about the data center at equinix.com.