The governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin, announced Friday that Amazon Web Services plans to invest $35 billion in new data centers within the state by 2040. This will be the state’s largest economic investment in history. According to a news release from the governor’s office, both party leaders in the General Assembly support the pending deal, which will provide millions of dollars in incentives. According to the Associated Press, if approved, Amazon would receive incentives from a new Mega Data Center Incentive Program as well as a grant of up to $140 million for workforce development site improvements and other expenses.
This investment is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs across the state, significantly fewer than the 25,000 jobs created by Amazon’s decision to build a second headquarters in Arlington County in 2018. According to legislation under consideration by the General Assembly, the amount of the grant will depend on how many jobs are created. Additionally, Virginia data centers will be temporarily exempt from sales and use taxes. The locations of the data centers will be determined at a later date, according to Youngkin’s office.
Legislation recently introduced in the state legislature would increase regulations regarding the location of these centers. Northern Virginia (NOVA), where data centers are seemingly everywhere, has become a politically volatile topic. According to Dgtl Infra, Loudoun County, also known as “Data Center Alley,” has the highest concentration of data centers in the country with 115 in 27 million square feet of operational space.
While many tech companies prefer the NOVA region due to its history as a network access point, many residents have expressed concerns about noise and environmental impacts. In order to support internet use, data centers require large cooling capacities and powerful fans, which can be quite noisy. Additionally, they consume a large amount of electricity, which may require the construction of high-voltage transmission lines.