If you’ve ever flown to Washington, D.C. and had your plane land at Dulles International Airport, you’ve been to Loudoun County, Virginia. Just 25 miles from the nation’s capital, Loudoun is now the data center capital of the world. How did that happen, and why is it important to site selectors?
One reason Loudoun is a prime location for data centers: one of the world’s largest Internet exchange points was built here in the late ‘90s. The Ashburn IXP allowed Internet service providers to exchange traffic between their networks. It became a backbone of the World Wide Web.
AOL came to Loudoun, then MCI WorldCom. Massive amounts of fiber optic cable was laid down for the telecom giants. Not long after, a new type of company started taking advantage of this infrastructure. Companies that house computers through which Internet content flows, in fortified, large flex buildings that passengers looked down on as they flew into Dulles in the early 2000s. This is how Data Center Alley was born.
In 2007, Loudoun County hired its first “out-bound salesperson.” Buddy Rizer analyzed a study the Department of Economic Development had commissioned, and saw data centers as a great fit for the assets that the county had to offer.
“I put up a list on my office wall of every major player in the data center industry, and started working down the list,” Rizer says.
Today, Rizer has very few names left on his list.
“All the major players are here,” Rizer says. “The top colocation companies in the world — like Digital Realty Trust, Equinix and Dupont Fabros — have their largest footprint in Loudoun.”
Loudoun County is now home to more than 60 data centers with more than nine million square feet occupied or under development.
“Loudoun has not had one day without data center construction in the last six years,” Rizer says.
One reason why Loudoun’s data center industry is booming is because the county has worked hard to make the development process fast and simple.
“We can get a data center to market faster than anywhere else in the world,” Rizer says.
Watts, Water, Workforce
Utility companies also contribute to the strength of Loudoun’s data center market. Dominion Power’s rates are about 28 percent lower than the U.S. average. Dominion and the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative have invested billions into the local electricity grid. Any downtime at all would cost data centers millions of dollars per minute, and Virginia utilities work to ensure that never happens.
In addition, Loudoun Water offers the use of reclaimed water to cool down facilities that could quickly overheat from the thousands of computers they house. Using reclaimed water as a cooling system saves data centers money, and is also environmentally friendly.
Just as important as its infrastructure is Loudoun’s workforce. In “D.C.’s Technology Corridor,” almost 30 percent of workers are employed in I.T. This makes it easier for data center operators to find experienced people who already live in the area.
“Three thousand of the world’s biggest tech companies are leasing space inside Loudoun data centers,” Rizer notes.
Not Slowing Down
Although the major colocation operators have already snapped up Loudoun greenfield properties, opportunities still exist to build new facilities from the ground up. And the data center industry is not showing any signs of slowing down. Because, as Rizer notes, “By 2020, 80 percent of all adults in the world will have a super-computer in their pocket.”
Site selectors with clients in the data center, cyber security or big data industries should advise them to consider Loudoun. Contact Loudoun Economic Development at 703-777-0426, or view Loudoun’s available land and buildings database at biz.loudoun.gov.
ith over 20 square miles of development opportunities and a trade area with 126,000 people just outside of Denver, it’s no wonder the town of Parker, Colorado has nearly 80 active development projects.
Innovation Pavilion Project
Many of Parker’s development projects involve businesses and services centered on technology, including the latest endeavor with business incubator Innovation Pavilion (IP). The company’s facilities and programs will give Parker’s entrepreneurs and corporations resources to build and better connect the community.
“Parker is home to many entrepreneurs who are using innovative technology everyday in their professional lives, and we want to integrate these technologies with their home lives as well,” said Vic Ahmed, cofounder and CEO of Innovation Pavilion.
The town of Parker and IP are discussing ‘SMART Town’ solutions identified by citizens, including recreation, traffic, safety, and education. This government/business project will explore ways to make employees happier, more productive and more secure. The partnership will also seek to bring increased business investment and high quality job opportunities.
New IP Facility in Parker
The project includes the expansion of IP’s Centennial model into Parker, where they currently operate an 80,000 square foot facility hosting over 500 events and meetings each year. Their physical space in Parker will connect the business community to market opportunities.
Co-working spaces, business incubation programs, job readiness training and a collaborative environment that brings together entrepreneurs and leaders from businesses of all shapes and sizes will all be a part of what IP will bring to Parker.
“A Parker Innovation Pavilion will capitalize on the wealth of entrepreneurial talent among local businesses and residents,” said Mayor Mike Waid.
Partnering with Parker
The Town of Parker provides full-service economic development assistance to existing, expanding and relocating businesses, as well as retail development. The Department provides services and resources for businesses, including incentive packages, available properties, demographics and data. Details on demographics and working with their specialists can be found at parkered.org.
New Mexico is strategically located in the southwest and in the middle of the nation’s fastest growing states: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas and Utah. An excellent highway and rail infrastructure provides direct access to the East and West coasts, Texas, the Midwest, and the international borders of Canada and Mexico.
From New Mexico goods can be delivered to Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas and Utah within one day, and California markets in two days. The volume of truck traffic into the state translates into low backhaul rates for goods leaving the state.
Proximity to Market
The cost of transporting goods is reduced by utilizing the highways and railroads that run directly through New Mexico. The state is crisscrossed by three major interstates: I-25 (north-south), I-40 (east-west), and I-10 (east-west), in addition to two- and four-lane highways.
Additionally, Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway are among those serving New Mexico and provide transportation of raw materials and finished products throughout the nation.
Santa Teresa Intermodal Terminal
In 2014, Union Pacific completed a state-of-the-art rail facility in southern New Mexico. For the first time ever, New Mexico has a key inland port, positioning the Santa Teresa/El Paso area as a strategic focal point for shipments in the southwestern United States.
The new facility will increase capacity for lifts, parking and containers as volume in this area continues to grow. Located along the busy “Sunset Route” between El Paso and Los Angeles, the Santa Teresa Facility will also allow additional access for shippers and intermediaries in the area.
Facility features include an inter-modal ramp that will permit businesses more immediate access to the efficiencies of freight trains, fueling facilities to enhance commerce and goods movement, and an intermodal block swap/switching yard that will incorporate the latest engineering techniques for improved efficiency and throughput.