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November 7, 2016

OVH’s Vint Hill data center could hit $150 million

We want to do this as fast as we can. After that, we have to find another location, another building to do the same.
— OVH Program Director Boulch Paul
• What: World’s third largest “cloud” computer hosting company.

• Structure: Privately-held corporation.

• Headquarters: Roubaix, France.

• Established: 1999.

• Chief executive officer: Laurent Allard.

• President/founder: Octave Klaba.

• Employees: About 1,300.

• Details: OVH has more than one million customers in 17 countries; 20 data centers; hosts 18 million web applications.

• Annual revenue: Unknown, but several trade publications estimate it at $300 million.

• Website: Click here.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
The world’s third largest “cloud” computer hosting company could boost Fauquier’s economy more than expected.

French-based OVH last month pledged to invest $47 million at Vint Hill near New Baltimore to establish its U.S. headquarters and its first data center and server manufacturing plant in this country. The company projected creation of 54 jobs, paying an average $58,333 a year, plus benefits.

But, the company should far surpass those expectations, OVH Vice President Pascal Jaillon said in an interview Monday after a lunch welcoming his company to the former Army base.

“We are very optimistic, based on how the cloud market is doing now,” Mr. Jaillon said. “Those numbers are conservative. The cloud market is booming. You have 30 percent growth for companies in this business.”

If the market continues to soar, OVH would invest $150 million or more at Vint Hill, creating at least 100 jobs, he said.

About 35 people, including seven OVH representatives, two county supervisors and local business leaders, attended the 90-minute lunch.

Hard work and cooperation explain OVH’s decision to choose Vint Hill, according to county, state and company officials.

“Without VEDP (Virginia Economic Development Partnership) this marriage would never have happened,” county Economic Development Director Miles Friedman said. “Economic development happens at the local level, and they get it.”

“I don’t think it gets any better than this,” VEDP Chief Operating Officer Dan Gundersen said. “This is the way (economic development) is supposed to work.”

Most of the time OVH must seek opportunities, without encouragement, according to company executives.

“It’s extremely rare when economic development comes to you,” as it did with the Vint Hill site, International Development Manager Julien Costagliola di Fiore said.

“We’re looking forward to a long-standing partnership,” board of supervisors Chairman Chris Granger (Center District) said. “It’s going to be a great addition for all of us.”

OVH on Oct. 17 paid real estate investor Rajai Zumot $4.8 million for a bunker-like, single-story building at 6872 Watson Court. That 84,200-square-foot building, which will house the data center, and four smaller structures stand on the 8.6-acre parcel. 

Mr. Zumot began about two months ago began gutting the largest building to meet OVH’s needs.

“They wanted a big open-space area, so we had to demolish the interior” of the former top-security Army building, Mr. Zumot said.

To accommodate OVH, he must move two tenants — Providence Christian Academy and a shoe repair business.

He also will repair the planned data center’s roof.

“I hope to deliver my obligation list the first week of January,” said Mr. Zumot, a real estate investor who owns several other buildings at Vint Hill. “It was challenging because we had a lot of pieces that figured into the puzzle.”

He bought the Watson Court property in 2000, hoping to attract a data center, but that market soon collapsed. Thus, it took 16 years to realize his plan.

OVH plans to occupy the four buildings in phases, beginning in December or January, Program Director Paul Boulch said.

The company wants to fill most of the jobs with local people. The first wave of 10 to 15 workers will include staff support and technicians, who will get trained at company’s offices in Canada and France, Mr. Boulch said.

“We want to do this as fast as we can,” he said of the Watson Court property. “After that, we have to find another location, another building to do the same” ideally at Vint Hill.

OVH’s business model calls for renovating buildings less expensively than new construction.

“We don’t build buildings, basically,” Mr. Boulch said.

“We prefer to invest in the services and technology rather than the buildings,” Mr. Costagliola di Fiore said.

OVH started with a list of 100 possible U.S. sites, he said.

It eventually whittled that number to four in Virginia – Vint Hill, two at Ashburn and one near Richmond – and four in North Carolina.

Vint Hill prevailed because of Fauquier and the commonwealth’s “welcoming” spirit, the county’s “quality of life,” the availability of a skilled workforce and the cost of doing business.

The company would have had to pay twice the price for a comparable building in Ashburn, Mr. Costagliola di Fiore said.

Fauquier also promised at least $3 million in tax abatements and $1 million toward the installation of fiber optic cable at Vint Hill. Fauquier will own or lease about 25 percent of the cable’s capacity.

Developer Vint Hill Village LCC will contribute $250,000 to have access to fiber optic cable at the business park.

The state also granted the company $1.25 million incentives.

Mr. Jaillon declined to say whether a North Carolina law restricting transgender people’s use of public bathrooms influenced the company’s decision to choose Virginia.

“The official statement will be that it’s important for OVH to pick a state that is business- and people-friendly,” he said. “Virginia is that state.”
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Jim Griffin · November 14, 2016 at 2:39 pm

Interesting comment, but I'd leave that decision to the market, not bureaucrats. Each job and house is different. Matching them is a market function.
VintHillDad · November 14, 2016 at 2:06 pm

According to a press release from Fitch Ratings when they upgraded Fauquier County's bond rating in August, "Roughly 82% of residents commute outside of the county for employment". Those 82% of residents commuting to jobs outside the county so clog roads. Until we have jobs in the county for the vast majority of those 82% we shouldn't be building more houses.
Jim Griffin · November 9, 2016 at 4:29 pm
VHD: Businesses need workers who need homes, near work lest they clog the roads. Those workers spend money that attracts more businesses and workers who need houses. And so on. Bottom-line: Commerce and residences are intertwined, interdependent.
VintHillDad · November 9, 2016 at 12:24 pm
This is the kind of development we need at Vint Hill, not a bunch of houses.
fauquierflash · November 8, 2016 at 1:22 pm
Always great to see all the Minority groups represented in these Group Photos.
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