Microsoft is set to spend up to $500 million on a new data center in Mecklenburg County, Va., as part of a push to bolster its capabilities to deliver cloud computing services.

The data center was announced by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who said the state beat out competition from North Carolina and Texas to win the facility.

“Microsoft is a household name and securing this global project is a significant economic win for Virginia,” McDonnell said in a statement. “The company’s search process was long and competitive, and a great team of players came together to show Microsoft that Mecklenburg County was the right fit for this state-of-the-art data center.”

The facility is being billed as the largest economic investment ever in southern Virginia. The northern sector of the state, with its proximity to Washington, D.C., has been able to win its fair share of new data center projects, but the southern portion of the state has not been as successful. When completed the data center is expected to provide about 50 permanent jobs. 

Over the past year Microsoft has opened two massive data centers in Dublin, Ireland, and Chicago to support its cloud efforts. The Chicago facility opened last fall and featured a new container strategy where containers are pre-outfitted with anywhere from 1,800 to 2,500 servers and delivered directly to the facility.

In a blog post this March, Kevin Timmons, Microsoft’s general manager of data center services, said future data centers built by the software giant could very well see every part of the facility pre-manufactured and shipped to the site ready to be assembled.

“The data center industry is at an inflection point,” he said in the blog. “We need the ability to build out ‘at right scale’ based on capacity needs at unprecedented price points. Oh, by the way – it’s also imperative that we find ways to avoid the significant up-front costs and long lead times required to build traditional data centers.”

Incentives played a role in the battle with North Carolina and Texas for the facility, with the Virginia government kicking in a grant for $2.1 million. The county also received a $4.8 million grant for assistance with the project from a Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization program.




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