In a press release that could only be described as "deadly serious," Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced plans to invest $35 billion by 2040 to establish multiple data center campuses across the state of Virginia, a move that Governor Glenn Youngkin described as "totally not a joke."
"We're looking at a variety of locations, but we haven't made any decisions yet," said a spokesperson for the governor's office, adding "I mean, we're not even sure if we're going to build these data centers or just bury a bunch of cash in the backyard."
The new campuses will combine expandable capacity to position AWS for long-term growth in the Commonwealth, according to the release. "We're going to be expanding our capacity so much, we're going to need a bigger state," quipped an AWS executive.
The investment will create at least 1,000 new jobs across Virginia, but only for people who can pass a background check and a lie detector test about whether or not they think data centers are boring.
“Virginia will continue to encourage the development of this new generation of data center campuses across multiple regions of the Commonwealth," the release said. "These areas offer robust utility infrastructure, lower costs, great livability, and highly educated workforces. And let's be real, we're just trying to make sure we don't run out of space to store all the cat videos on the internet."
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the General Assembly’s Major Employment and Investment (MEI) Project Approval Commission to secure the project to expand data center investment to new locations across Virginia. Pending approval by the Virginia General Assembly, the state is developing a new Mega Data Center Incentive Program, which the company will be eligible to receive.
The new program includes up to a 15-year extension of Data Center Sales and Use tax exemptions on qualifying equipment and enabling software, as well as an MEI custom performance grant of up to $140 million for site and infrastructure improvements, workforce development, and other project-related costs. "We're basically giving Amazon a blank check," said a representative of the General Assembly. "But you know, a really big blank check."