Can a datacenter really drive economic recovery?

Can a datacenter really drive economic recovery?

Summary: A state-of-the-art, award-winning datacenter has little impact on the community it's located in.


ViaWest, who opened their latest facility in North Las Vegas two weeks ago, has certainly created a datacenter that stands out in a colo market filled with competitors searching for a competitive edge.  Their new Lone Mountain Data Center is an Uptime Institute Tier 4 certified design, a level that has not previously been achieved by a colo facility and something that is certain to be a differentiator in the industry.

With 74,000 sq ft of raised floor space, LEED, Energy Star, and Green Globe certifications, ViaWest has pulled out all the design stops in building their flagship facility. From the perspective of the datacenter industry, the new datacenter facility is a excellent example of datacenter state-of-the-art and an impressive accomplishment. 

But is that a reason for the City of North Las Vegas to see it as a turning point for a community that has been mired in the economic doldrums for a very long time?

North Las Vegas has seen a few other businesses over that last few years that opened to major fanfare and flared out and died quickly, leaving the city in no better economic shape.  The highest profile of these businesses, the ill-fated Amonix solar panel manufacturer, brought a significant number of jobs and attention; attention that proved to be detrimental when the operation collapsed in 2011, taking the jobs and area investment with it.

The ViaWest datacenter is certainly a low-risk operation, in terms of concerns over the viability of the project. ViaWest is a well-established datacenter provider and their decision to build a flagship facility means that the datacenter isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

But the nature of the datacenter business is that it doesn’t bring long-term large scale economic prosperity to areas where one off datacenters are built. Even if other datacenter providers choose to build in the same area, as we are seeing in Oregon and in North Carolina, the overall impact on the local economy, in terms of jobs and related business, once the datacenter facilities are completed and operational, is usually pretty minimal.

North Las Vegas will be able to point to the ViaWest facility as a business that has chosen to be in their city, but to expect ongoing economic benefit seems to be an unrealistic choice. While it is true that some number of people will relocate to the area to work in the facility, there is no compelling reason for them to choose to live in the same city. The nature of the valley is such that people are more likely to put quality of life choices ahead of proximity to the office when choosing to relocate themselves and their families.

Hopefully North Las Vegas will be realistic about what the ViaWest facility means to their city. 

Topics: Data Centers, IT Employment

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  • The same folly

    I live in Hillsboro Oregon. New data centers are popping up only a 1/2 mile form where I live. These centers are fueled on enterprise zone" tax exemptions in the hope to revitalized our blue collar economy. It no lost on me these companies are moving into buildings left abandon for previous foolishness by state and local officials investment of billions high tech manufacturing to only watch these jobs disappear to other states and China. Leaving us middle class workers scrambling for work.
    If our officials are delusional to think data centers will revitalize our economy; more jobs will be created by building a Mc Donalds than a data center. Most inside the cage work will be fulfilled by traveling tech workers or a version of High tech "Labor Ready " day laborers. (during the housing crash that was what I did $16.00 an hour for maybe four hours of works or even entire day of work per week )
  • Let me be blunt: it's foolish to build any business

    in any part of California, and the business and political environments of the whole state should make that very clear.

    Plus, no, creation of data centers will not drive any economy. It's like putting the cart in front of the horse. The business sector should drive the demand for data centers, and not vice-versa.
  • inconsequential data center

    Having attended that "grand" opening, I can tell you that this facility is not transformative to the North Las Vegas economy. In fact, it's smoke and mirrors.

    Another thing to note is that the via west facility is Tier IV rated but was not built to Tier IV specifications. Just because you obtain a rating for anything doesn't mean that you're bound or obligated to build a facility to those specs. Via west didn't build that building to those specs. Via west chose Las Vegas to open this building for one reason, Las Vegas' very low probability for natural disasters. The other two via west facilities in Las Vegas are of sub par quality at best. Surely, no tech enterprise would utilize the services available at those locations. One of them was purchased from Corelink and had multiple repeated outages over the last 36 mos. Anyone with any real knowledge of the Las Vegas data center market knows that via west is not the leading provider. It's simply antiquated tech less than truthful marketing. The bold statements they are making regarding the lone mountain facility are sales fluff.