Senator Mark Warner, Virginia, says he will move “heaven and earth” to attract data center operators to the state, and keep the data center hub there growing.

He made the comment at a roundtable with senior members of the data centers industry in an Equinix data center in Ashburn on February 28.

County newspaper, Loudoun Times reported on the meeting. According to the paper, Sen. Warner said: “If any of you would ever be willing to look at southside or southwest, I will move heaven and earth in terms of state and federal incentives.”

Data Center Alley

Loudoun County, Northern Virginia is the largest data center market in the world. The area, nicknamed Data Center Alley, consists of hundreds of data centers centered on the town of Ashburn, comprising millions of square feet. With space at a premium, operators are now looking to build in neighboring areas that are less saturated. However, Virginia still has the advantage of a well-established infrastructure.

The roundtable discussed this change of location, and Sen. Warner, in a bid to keep companies investing in Virginia, offered to lobby for more incentives favorable to tech companies. The Commonwealth is already hard at work in trying to keep data center investment in Virginia high.

Numerous counties in the US state have been trying to attract similar investments. In April last year, DCD reported on Virginia's Stafford County Government passed a motion to give lower property taxes to data center operators.

At the time Scott Mayausky, Stafford's commissioner of revenue, said the move was to match other counties doing the same thing: “We’re lowering our rates to match Prince William County’s and have adopted the same depreciation schedule as theirs.

"We’re not giving away anything by lowering the tax rate, because, at the current rate, data centers wouldn’t be coming to Stafford.”

You got a friend in me

In January, Senator Warner joined a bipartisan effort in the Senate to demand legislation for encouraging US innovation for 5G and for the Government to provide more than $1bn in investments for western companies to become an alternative provider than the likes of Huawei.

"Every month that the US does nothing, Huawei stands poised to become the cheapest, fastest, most ubiquitous global provider of 5G, while US and Western companies and workers lose out on market share and jobs,” Warner said in a statement at the time.

In 2017, a bill was introduced to the US Senate, aiming at extending the data center consolidation provisions of the 2014 Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act by another two years. Sen. Mark Warner was among the politicians who put forward the bill. He was joined by fellow Democrats and Republicans.

Operators of the roundtable

Joining Mark Warner at the meeting were numerous representatives from companies that operate in Loudoun County.

AWS’s public policy head, John Stephenson, said: "I think with the alignment of power, connectivity, and workforce, have really made a difference in northern Virginia. That is why Amazon's been a long time investor in Virginia."

Equinix’s president of the Americas, Jon Lin, said: “Direct access to fiber is so critical for what we're trying to do and for what our customers are trying to do. Long-haul routes, and adjacent to the bulk of the internet, that's what we've been able to build here in Ashburn.”

QTS Data Centers chief hyperscale officer, Thomas Greason, said: “Normally, data center companies don't put their names on their buildings. They don't say anything about what's going on. We don’t say a thing. Everyone around this table has realized it's our job to tell the story and bring the community in.”