WJTV News Channel 12 - Roanoke, Wythe Counties could be site of new data centers

Roanoke, Wythe Counties could be site of new data centers

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ROANOKE COUNTY, VA -

Appalachian Power launched a new program with the goal of bringing high-tech jobs to the area. Two local sites have been certified as a good location for a new data center -- both in Roanoke and Wythe Counties.

It's estimated 45-percent of existing data centers will need new space within the next three years. The jobs would help diversity job opportunities in southwest Virginia. 

"It helps to spread the risk to have that and they are among the highest investment opportunities that are available" said Alan Hawthorne, the Wythe County Joint Industrial Development Authority executive director.

Progress Park in Wythe County and the Roanoke County Center for Research and Technology have been certified by a third party as potential locations.

"What this does is it says to the data center companies, we are ready for you. We have been I guess you can say, pre-approved. They have met the criteria for a data center to locate" said Mary Rae Carter, the deputy secretary for Rural Economic Development.

The certification is based on a number of factors including location, infrastructure, telecommunications, low risk of natural disasters and state incentives.

Hawthorne says a large center data center would mean at least half a billion dollars in capital investment and about 100 employees.

Both counties say they've had interest in the past but haven't closed a deal. They say it would help bring a different kind of job to the area and possibly spin off companies.

"You can use Microsoft as an example. if you land a Microsoft or a Google then perhaps you can attract supplier companies to those projects. There could be some interesting new developments in the future" said Jill Loope, the Roanoke County acting director of economic development.

APCo paid for the certification, about $20,000 per site. They say bringing more customers in will help stabilize rates by spreading costs over more customers.

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Two sites in our area have been independently certified as a good location for a new data center, bringing capital investment and high paying jobs. It's estimated 45% of existing data centers will need new space within the next three years.

Appalachian Power announced a new effort to help lure large capital investment and high-tech, high-paying jobs to the area. The program targets a growing industry by identifying sites in western Virginia that are independently qualified to meet requirements to support a data center.

Both the Roanoke County Center for Research and Technology and Wythe County Progress Park met the criteria and are the first two sites to receive the designation.

A combination of factors led to the designation including infrastructure, telecommunications, low risk of natural disasters and state incentives.

In total, ten sites will receive the pre-approval. Other sites include Louisiana, Texas and West Virginia.

We'll have more on this story tonight on WSLS.

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