October 6, 2016
“Cloud” computing giant coming to Vint Hill
OVH is a green company. They are undergounding power lines. They are providing good-paying jobs that will support folks here in the way they need to be supported. What’s not to like?
— Holder Trumbo, Scott District supervisor
World’s third largest “cloud” computer hosting company.
• Chief executive officer:
OVH has more than one million customers in 17 countries; 17 data centers; 250,000 servers; hosts 18 million web applications.
• Annual revenue:
Unknown, but several trade publications estimate it at $300 million.
• Website: Click here
The world’s third largest “cloud” computer hosting company has big plans for Vint Hill near New Baltimore.
French-based OVH will invest $47 million to establish its first U.S. data center and North American headquarters at the former Army base, which had specialized in electronic eavesdropping for about 50 years.
OVH provides dedicated servers, cloud storage, email and domain names to more than one million customers in 17 data centers worldwide.
The global internet giant initially will create 54 jobs, each paying an average $58,333 per year, plus benefits, according to the company and Fauquier County officials.
As part of the deal, OVH, the county, the Commonwealth of Virginia and developer Vint Hill Village LLC will fund the installation of fiber optic cable to serve the business park at Fauquier’s eastern edge.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced OVH’s Vint Hill plans Thursday morning in a two-page press release.
“OVH’s decision to establish its North American headquarters in Virginia further solidifies the commonwealth’s global standing as the top player in the flourishing data center sector,” Gov. McAuliffe said. “Thanks to our critical IT infrastructure and skilled workforce, Fauquier County will be home to one of the most elite cloud providers around the globe.”
Calling the project “a win-win,” the governor added: “OVH will invest in infrastructure enhancements to the Vint Hill business park, opening access to the development of nearly 150 acres with increased fiber, sewer, water and electrical capacity.”
The project represents the kind of economic development Fauquier wants.
“I think it’s a very exciting step in the right direction” for Vint Hill’s development “and Fauquier County in general,” Supervisor Chris Granger (Center District) said.
“It looks like it could be a fantastic long-term investment for the county,” Supervisor Rick Gerhardt (Cedar Run District) said. “This is the type of stuff we like to see to expand our commercial tax base,” with minimal impact on public services.
“OVH is a green company” that plans to use treated wastewater from the Vint Hill sewer plant to cool the planned data center, Supervisor Holder Trumbo (Scott District) said. “They are undergounding power lines. They are providing good-paying jobs that will support folks here in the way they need to be supported. What’s not to like?”
OVH wants to primarily hire local residents, Fauquier Economic Development Director Miles Friedman said.
“It will be a U.S. company in as many ways as possible,” Mr. Friedman said.
OVH considered at least 40 other communities in Virginia, North Carolina and elsewhere before choosing Fauquier, according to county officials. The company eventually narrowed the list to Fauquier and Charlotte.
“It sends a message” that the county can compete successfully with the likes of Charlotte, which has 10 data centers, Mr. Friedman said. “It shows we’re a player in the international market place.”
County officials and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked closely for months to land OVH.
The courtship involved four visits to Fauquier by top-level OVH officials since June and scores of meetings, emails and phone conversations.
When Mr. Friedman learned about OVH’s interest in Fauquier, “I immediately thought of Vint Hill,” he said. “It’s the only place in Fauquier” where zoning allows data centers.
The governor’s announcement may tell only part of the story.
OVH’s Vint Hill investment could triple during the next five years, Mr. Friedman said.
“For now, one building, one parcel” at Vint Hill, he said. “But, I suspect it would be more at some point. They envision pretty rapid growth in the U.S.”
That could mean dozens of more high-salaried jobs and millions more in tax revenue for Fauquier and the state.
To lure OVH to the county, Fauquier’s supervisors have agreed to provide at least $2 million in tax incentives and a $1 million investment toward the installation of fiber optic cable at Vint Hill.
That $1-million investment would give Fauquier access to 25 percent of the “dark fiber” broadband capacity. “Dark fiber” refers to dedicated, private cable that could be sold or leased to other companies.
Under the proposed “technology zone” incentive package, OVH would effectively pay no business license, machinery and tools, personal property or real estate taxes to Fauquier for three years.
Fauquier’s supervisors will approve an incentive package on Thursday, Oct. 13.
Since 2013, the supervisors have awarded tax incentives to four businesses: Old Bust Head Brewery LLC, Allen Wayne Ltd., Wort Hog Brewing Co. and VADATA Inc., which plans to build a $200-million data center at the Warrenton Training Center, a super-secret, federal compound on View Tree Mountain at Warrenton’s northern edge.
For its part, the state this week approved $1.25 million from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to help pay for infrastructure related to the project, such as fiber optic cable, electricity, water and sewer.
Landowner Vint Hill Village LLC also will put $250,000 into the fiber optic project, according to a source.
Vint Hill Village President Ed Moore declined to say whether his company has made such a commitment.
OVH will contribute an undetermined sum toward that effort.
“They don’t know how much fiber will cost,” Mr. Friedman said. “They have to bid it.”
Fauquier’s first data center and OVH’s North American headquarters will be housed in a real estate investor Rajai Zumot’s bunker-like, single-story building at 6872 Watson Court. That 84,200-square-foot building and four smaller structures stand on the 8.6-acre parcel.
For tax purposes, Fauquier values the property at $2.4 million. The French company probably will pay a much higher price.
OVH hopes to complete purchase the property from Mr. Zumot’s Blue Rock LLC in November, Mr. Friedman said.
Fauquier’s supervisors believe the project could have positive wide-ranging implications.
For example, access to the planned fiber optic cable could figure into Fauquier’s strategy to extend high-speed internet service to rural areas, said Mr. Gerhardt, who serves as chairman of the county’s broadband advisory committee.
The Cedar Run District supervisor has made expanded broadband service a top priority.
Fauquier’s broadband consultant Design Nine Inc. of Blacksburg next Wednesday will unveil a plan that will include the installation of some fiber optic and up to seven new telecommunication towers across the county.
OVH also could become an economic development magnate, Mr. Granger said.
“It probably spells good news for other accessory type uses being attracted to the Vint Hill business park,” the Center District supervisor said.
Mr. Friedman described OVH as “champing at the bit” to get started.
“They’re ready to hire contractors the minute the governor’s announcement is made,” he said. “They’re going to start on a small scale. But, they want to be in operation before the end of the year.”
“We’re starting to see” the results of the previous and current board of supervisors’ commitment to economic development, Supervisor Granger said. “We’ve had some small successes. This is really the first large-scale (private-sector project) since ramping up our economic development effort.”
OVH announcement Press Release by Fauquier Now on Scribd
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MissB · October 7, 2016 at 10:52 am
"and VADATA Inc., which plans to build a $200-million data center at the Warrenton Training Center, a super-secret, federal compound on View Tree Mountain at Warrenton’s northern edge."
Guess its not so "super-secret" any more LOL.
Rover 530 · October 6, 2016 at 11:35 pm
The article states that the BOS will APPROVE the tax incentive package on October 13. So this is a done deal. No public hearing with a predetermined outcome. The company will pay little or no local taxes for 3 years? What if their business fails after three years? A lot will be spent but no one will get anything as a result. What is the exact value of this incentive package? County taxpayers will want to know. On the surface, this is a good thing for the state but what is the long term benefit to the county? This French company should be grateful to find a great spot to put their data center right here in America on the former Vint Hill military base which played a key role in saving the French from speaking German. How much in taxes can we really expect from this enterprise. It's good that it won't put more children in the classrooms. That's a fortunate result. The Board of Supervisors needs to enlighten county taxpayers more before making a final decision.
Jim Griffin · October 6, 2016 at 5:02 pm
Our Fauquier high schools are well-run by Dr. David Jeck, but I will add a recommendation: Ditch Google's Apps For Education and provide these services locally, run by students out of data centers in each high school.
The market for system administrators was already strong, now red hot with more and bigger data centers coming to our county. Graduating students eligible for jobs in data centers is essential.
So long as our schools are lazily outsourcing basic data work to Google, which data mines our children, we are losing this battle. There is no good reason for our school applications and information to reside across the country on servers in California.
Bring the work, the learning, the systems -- and the jobs -- home to Fauquier County where it belongs. Others are doing so -- our schools should take notice.
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