Exhibit halls at data center conferences are traditionally packed with vendors and service providers looking for customers. At last week's Spring Data Center World, the expo hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center showcased the growth of a new class of exhibitor: the regional economic development agency (EDA) hoping to attract data center projects.
Four different EDAs had booths at the AFCOM show, while another focused on outreach to media at Data Center World. Here's the rundown:
- Virginia Economic Development Partnership: The only one of the EDAs that has previously had a booth at Data Center World, Virginia was there to let companies know that there's still plenty of room for data centers in the state, especially in southern Virginia.
- Nebraska Advantage: Omaha was named one of the best U.S. cities to locate a data center by The Boyd Company, and is developing incentive programs to compete with its neighbor Iowa. The Nebraska Advantage booth also had representatives of the Nebraska Public Power District on hand to discuss power issues.
- Temple (Texas) Economic Development Corp.: Temple is a city between Dallas and Austin that hopes to attract data center tenants to a business park controlled by the EDA.
- North Dakota Department of Commerce: Reps of North Dakota say they've had site visits from some of the largest data center providers, attracted by the state's cost and infrastructure. A state-funded telecommunications network, STAGEnet, provides broadband connections to 192 North Dakota communities.
- The town of Cedar Falls, Iowa distributed packages of economic development information to media at Data Center World. The city's EDA has developed an FAQ page addressing the region's benefits for data center site location.
We've previously reported about the debates about the economic development value of data centers, which typically feature huge capital investments but few jobs. The visibility of EDA booths at Data Center World, along with the growing number of states developing tax incentive programs for data centers, suggests that more states and cities see merit in marketing themselves as data center destinations.