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Legislators seek strategies to lure data centers to Southwest Virginia | Local News

“We’ve got a real opportunity to reimagine our economy,” said Mike Quillen, a former coal executive and current chairman of the Southwest Virginia Energy Research Authority, which is focused on promoting new energy development in the region once known for its booming coal industry.

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Far Southwest Virginia already has three data centers — in Scott, Russell and Wise counties — and there are more than a dozen others scattered across the commonwealth outside of Northern Virginia.

Northern Virginia is the national hub for the data center industry. Data centers bloomed there because of the relatively low power rates, a highly educated workforce and nearby customers, like the federal government. Their centers’ proximity to its customers helps shave off milliseconds from the time they take to transmit data.

The pandemic has shifted more and more work and play online, which means businesses and people are gobbling up more data. The need for more data capacity has been a boom for the data center industry.

“As that occurs, you’re seeing a lot more positioning between states and localities across the country in trying to draw more data center investment and jobs,” said Josh Levi, president of the Data Center Coalition, a Northern Virginia-based trade association for the data center industry.

The General Assembly is considering a couple bills intended to incentivize more growth of data centers in Virginia, and the further expansion of them into regions like far Southwest Virginia. They would loosen guidelines around the sales and use tax exemption to encourage companies to build data centers in economically distressed areas.

Read More: Legislators seek strategies to lure data centers to Southwest Virginia | Local News

2021-01-23 18:00:00

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