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Study shows region could host multiple data centers

Study shows region could host multiple data centers

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BRISTOL, Va. — Southwest Virginia has a number of assets that could be used to help recruit data centers to the region, a new study shows.

The study sought third-party validation for GO Virginia Region One to become a location of choice for data centers based on power and broadband infrastructure and the availability of geothermal cooling technology with the billions of gallons of water collected in underground mines as an energy and cost-savings tool, according to a written statement.

It was conducted by On Point Development Strategies and funded through InvestSWVA — a public-private marketing effort of GO Virginia Region One and the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. Funding came from the GO Virginia Region One Council and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

“Reinventing our economy can include reusing our existing infrastructure,” U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-9th, said in the statement. “The water pooled in abandoned mine sites could serve industrial operations requiring substantial water use, such as data centers. This innovation would be a way to draw economic opportunities to Southwest Virginia.”

The study also touts available land and a ready workforce. It identifies six potential large-scale sites, including Oak Park Center in Washington County; Lonesome Pine Regional Business and Technology Park in Wise County; Progress Park in Wythe County; Red Onion industrial site in Dickenson County; Sunbright mine site in Scott County; and Wildwood Commerce Park in Carroll County.

It identifies four potential smaller-scale sites, including Bluestone Regional Business and Technology Center in Tazewell; Southern Gap Business Park in Buchanan County; Project Intersection in Norton; and a Tennessee Valley Authority -certified site in Scott County.

The economic and fiscal impact analysis estimates that one large data center would generate 40 direct and 59 additional permanent jobs and over $50 million in economic activity annually once operations begin. It could also result in 2,000 temporary jobs during construction and $233 million in economic activity during construction.

“Local, state and federal leaders have been working tirelessly to attract economic development to Southwest Virginia, and data centers are a hot topic as we look to bring more jobs here,” state Del. Israel O’Quinn, R-Bristol. “Data centers provide a unique opportunity to modernize our economy, bring 21st-century jobs to our region and leverage some of our strongest assets including land and sustainability.”

Will Payne, managing partner of Coalfield Strategies and project lead for InvestSWVA, said the study shows the region is a “prime location” for data centers.

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