For years, cloud computing companies have gravitated toward Northern Virginia — a global tech hub known for its data centers.
Now, regional economic development leaders want to bring that success, and related jobs, to Hampton Roads as Amazon continues to expand in Virginia.
Amazon Web Services plans to spend $35 billion building more data centers in Virginia by 2040, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Jan. 20. Amazon hasn’t picked locations for the data centers yet, and a Hampton Roads development and marketing agency is doing everything it can to position the region as a candidate.
“We need to be very intentional about how Hampton Roads attracts these opportunities including those with AWS and other companies,” Doug Smith, Hampton Roads Alliance president and CEO, said in an email. “Our relationship with Amazon at a corporate level is very strong, and we would be pleased to have Amazon and AWS continue to grow their footprint in Hampton Roads.”
Data centers house the components necessary for the modern internet to function and require heavy power use, Smith said. That could prove to be an advantage for Hampton Roads, he said, since Dominion Energy is developing a wind farm that will produce up to 2.6 gigawatts of electricity.
Smith said the region boasts other advantages, including a subsea cable landing and plans to build out a regional fiber internet ring. Huge data users like Facebook, Microsoft and Google were involved in developing high-speed subsea cables that land in Virginia Beach.
In the announcement, Youngkin said he was excited for Amazon to continue investing in Virginia. In 2018, the company announced plans to open its second headquarters in the Washington, D.C., region, creating 25,000 jobs.
“Virginia will continue to encourage the development of this new generation of data center campuses across multiple regions of the commonwealth,” Youngkin said. “These areas offer robust utility infrastructure, lower costs, great livability and highly educated workforces and will benefit from the associated economic development and increased tax base, assisting the schools and providing services to the community.”
The new data centers are expected to create 1,000 jobs, according to Amazon.
The Hampton Roads Alliance recently hired a consultant, Mike Grella of Grella Strategic Partnerships, to evaluate the region’s suitability as a home for data centers, Smith said.
“Grella, a former executive at Amazon, is evaluating Hampton Roads in relation to competitive peer regions to determine market opportunities and specific sites within the region to determine which are best suited for data center development,” Smith said.
Trevor Metcalfe, 757-222-5345, firstname.lastname@example.org