Facebook Comes to Virginia with Billion Dollar Data Center

Oct 5, 2017

Lawmakers in Richmond pose with "Facebook" shovels, announcing a deal with the tech and social media company.
Credit Mallory Noe-Payne / RADIO IQ

Facebook is moving into Virginia. The company announced Thursday it will build an almost billion dollar data center in Henrico County, just east of the state’s capitol.


Governor Terry McAuliffe says the deal was three years in the making, with wrangling down to the wire and a final celebration Wednesday night.

“We did have a little uh victory dinner last night at the Governor’s mansion that went into the wee hours of the morning,” said McAuliffe to laughter at an announcement event Thursday.

For politicians there’s a lot to celebrate: $750 million of direct investment from one of the world’s largest tech companies. That’s not to mention more than a thousand construction jobs, 100 full-time jobs, plus leverage for future negotiations.

“And to say that we got a billion dollar data center from Facebook, really helps you with others who are looking to do new data facilities,” said McAuliffe.

Facebook has reason to celebrate as well. Henrico County slashed property taxes nearly 90-percent for this, and all future, data centers.

“And so we are excited and I am so looking forward to all that Facebook is going to do, partnerships with our schools and our youth programs,” said Henrico County Supervisor Tyrone Nelson.  “It’s a win win for everybody.”

Another win is for renewable energy in the state. In a unique deal with Dominion Energy,  Facebook will be paying extra to support solar power.

The company is opting to pay Dominion a higher energy bill each month, which the power company will use to offset the cost of adding renewable energy to the grid. The new renewable rate could be used by other companies as well.

“It’s a model for other large companies that want to locate or expand into Virginia, access safe reliable affordable clean energy, and meet their sustainability goals,” said Bob Blue with Dominion Energy.  

Dominion had plans to build multiple new solar facilities, but hasn’t decided where.

McAuliffe says the deal could help provide leverage for attracting another big-name tech company: Amazon.

“We have the backbone of the infrastructure,” McAuliffe said. “We now have more data centers than any state in America.”

McAuliffe has made a name during his term for striking deals with private business. And with only a few months left in office, he’s hinted he's not quite done yet.

 

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.