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Rural North Carolina Experiences Data Center Boom

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the hear-that-sound dept.

Businesses 153

1sockchuck writes "Rural counties in western North Carolina have hit the data center trifecta, landing major projects from Google, Apple and Facebook. These marquee tech companies will invest more than $2 billion in small towns like Forest City, Kings Mountain and Maiden, a town of just 3,300 residents. How did western North Carolina become a tech hub? Aggressive tax incentives and an abundant supply of cheap power, a legacy of the textile mills that once thrived in the region, which narrowly missed winning a $499 million Microsoft data center project that ended up in Virginia."

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Deliverance! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34254456)

OK, piggy boy, you stick that dongle right in there now...

Otis Would be Proud... (0, Offtopic)

sitarlo (792966) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254534)

Datacenters + Moonshine = Downtime.

Re:Otis Would be Proud... (2, Funny)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254638)

Moonshine = bio-fuel!

New Jeff Foxworthy jokes are coming...

You know you're a redneck when your porch collapses and kills your dog and the terminal you use to telecommute to the data center you work at.

Re:Otis Would be Proud... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34254922)

Yea .. ummm .. if the job is telecomuteable , its being done from india .. or china ..

Jobs (1, Troll)

falldeaf (968657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254548)

I wonder how hard it'll be to find employees in those areas. I doubt there's a glut of high tech workers looking for jobs in those rural areas and if I were a knowledgeable tech worker I wouldn't really want to move to such a rural area... If you're not into country music and you prefer dance clubs over small bars you would *not* want to move to those areas!

Re:Jobs (2, Insightful)

PawNtheSandman (1238854) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254562)

I'd relocate there in a second. Any job postings up yet?

Re:Jobs (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255068)

Too hot.

But when the place in Maine or Hampshire or Vermont opens-up, I'll be first in line.

Re:Jobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34255410)

If taxes were a major part of the draw, you'll be waiting a while.

Re:Jobs (4, Insightful)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256148)

Hope you don't have kids.

Education was the reason I moved from rural North Carolina. They are the reason for No Child Left Behind. The teachers help push the kids up and over that very low bar just to get their bonuses. I've seen second graders that couldn't read their math problems.

Well, that and all the Nascar rednecks. Everyone's password is nascar7, nascar34 whatever number their favorite driver is.

Re:Jobs (1)

Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256368)

Don't be afraid to jump in with bad information. As a teacher in NC, I admit that education is not perfect and is far too focused on testing, but it's not the worst in the country or even close to it. And teachers don't get testing bonuses anymore either.

Re:Jobs (5, Informative)

sshirley (518356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254616)

I went to university at Western Carolina University and we typically had 30+ students in the CS program. UNC Asheville has about the same. There are also a number of regional community colleges with degrees in IT. There are plenty of educated people in the area who want to stay around home and work there. I am from New England but went to school there. Back then (1999) there was a huge dearth of IT jobs in the area. If something like this had happened then, I'd probably still be there happily.

Re:Jobs (2, Interesting)

falldeaf (968657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254670)

That's actually more than I thought but makes sense. Also, just to be clear I didn't mean for my post to be a sleight towards NC, I actually lived in Winston-Salem for a couple years and liked it.

Re:Jobs (1)

sshirley (518356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254810)

Oh, I know. On first glance, you wouldn't think so. Sure there are PLENTY of uneducated bumpkins in WNC. Hell, Buncombe County (Asheville) has an adult illiteracy rate of over 50%!!! But there are still a lot of educated people there. I was quite surprised while living there. Plus the beauty of the area, the opportunities for exercise (hiking, rafting, fishing, etc), low cost of living, etc makes it an ideal place. I don't think I listened to country once while there. :-)

Re:Jobs (1)

sshirley (518356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254676)

My only question is (and I'm thinking about myself here) whether there are going to be any software development jobs resulting from this. Or just networking type jobs.

Re:Jobs (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255114)

My first guess is "no" to the first, but "yes" to the second. I could be completely off base of course, but my read would be that software development will be done in headquarters locations, but given that these are *data* centers, most of what they'll need will probably be systems and network guys. There may be some software development jobs associated with writing internal apps and scripts needed directly by the data center, but probably not a huge number. Again, I don't work for any of these companies, and I have no idea how their internal processes work, that's just how I'd do it.

NC State too (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34254934)

NC State attracts students from across the state, and plenty of them come to Raleigh, get a CS or CE degree, and would be happy to move to a rural area and do IT of some sort. I don't think they'll have any problem finding folks to do the work.

Personally, I'm a little disappointed that cheap (read: lots of coal, little renewable growth) power was a factor for Apple and Google. Facebook's a whore anyway, but Apple and Google purport to be greener than the average company.

Re:NC State too (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256228)

That's pretty much always the case. That's why so much of the tech industry is in WA state. We've got some of the cheapest power in the country. Plus our courts tend to be pretty friendly to tech companies and hell, the state looks the other way as tech firms opt out of paying their taxes.

We've got MS, Google, Amazon.com, Nintendo Of America, and Popcap to name a few. All of which have a presence here, and for most of them that's their main presence.

Re:Jobs (4, Informative)

jamesoutlaw (87295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254660)

Re:Jobs (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255400)

I lived in Charlotte for a year. It's a major city, but the culture is not much removed from the rural lifestyle of guns, NASCAR, and church. (Good thing I like two out of three of those things.) It was dull compared to someplace major like Boston or Washington or San Francisco.

Charlotte ranks #24 out of 210 markets.

acres of forested property... (3, Informative)

Junta (36770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254840)

You can buy/build a house on acres of wooded property. Private, low maintenance, no HOA living.

Horrible residential internet though.

I frequent those areas and its some of the most awesome living. Drawing talent away from RTP doesn't seem infeasible.

Re:acres of forested property... (2, Insightful)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254910)

Resi internet, I imagine, will be a problem that will be solved VERY quickly there with a company enterprising enough to see the need and fill it.

Re:acres of forested property... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255636)

Japanese-style DSL with 100 Mbit lines? That would be sweet.

Re:acres of forested property... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34254958)

In a 10 mile radius of the proposed Facebook center, yes.

Move to the edge of Cleveland County (Shelby, NC) where Time Warner cable serves and you can pull a 50/5 cable connection for $99/mo. That'd give you a 20 minute drive in to work. Assuming you hit all of the stop lights.

Re:Jobs (4, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254886)

"I wonder how hard it'll be to find employees in those areas. I doubt there's a glut of high tech workers looking for jobs in those rural areas and if I were a knowledgeable tech worker I wouldn't really want to move to such a rural area... If you're not into country music and you prefer dance clubs over small bars you would *not* want to move to those areas!"

Maybe not extremely young workers...but perhaps slightly older people, who are wanting to buy a house, and perhaps raise a family?

Places like this can be DIRT cheap to live. Cheap to buy property and build a home, and actually have some land for it to sit on.

Even if you do get a bit less of a bill rate than you would, say on the west coast...with the extremely LOW cost of living, lower taxes, etc, you can really sock some money away. Sure, it will be a bit different lifestyle, but slowing down a bit, getting out of all of the air polution, and actually being able to see some stars at night....well, sometimes, that ain't all bad.

:)

Re:Jobs (1)

edremy (36408) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254988)

I have relatives close to those areas (south-central VA, another really depressed area) There are a ton of worker retraining programs run through community colleges and the like, and there's a fair amount of funding for them through various grants. That said, it's going to be tough for a lot of them: the folks I know who were laid off from mills generally do not have a good educational base and are often well removed from the educational experience, and numbers-wise there's no way these data centers are going to employ as many people as the old mills did.

Re:Jobs (2, Insightful)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255314)

I am a knowledgeable tech work and I accepted a 50% salary drop to move back to my home town. Living in a big house for about a quarter of the price of my last rent and only having to drive 5 minutes to work is priceless.

Re:Jobs (3, Interesting)

Hasai (131313) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255914)

I'm with you on that. I could have been in Silicon Valley, but I opted for the Midwest for less than half the pay. End result: Life in a quiet town, twenty-minute commutes, low taxes, plenty of money left over at the end of the month, and a house paid-off in ten years that's three times the square footage of anything I could have possibly been able to afford in the Valley. God bless the "fly-over" states.

Re:Jobs (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255630)

My company decided to outsource our shipping/warehousing to a company in N. Carolina, and something like 4 or so of our employees in that department agreed to move out there and work for that company as our liaisons. So lack of qualified people wasn't too much of an issue in that case. I wonder how many other companies are dealing with the qualified candidate issue in that way?

Re:Jobs (1)

pckl300 (1525891) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255658)

There's lots of large cities and several great colleges in the southeast that will produce plenty of people who want to work there. Some people like the small town feel.

Re:Jobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34255754)

Not very. First of all, it's important to remember that despite the behemoth size of these installations and the massive amount of power they consume, data centers don't require a large human staff. Most of these new data centers are targeting only 200-300 employees if I recall correctly. So you don't *need* a huge glut of high tech workers.

Secondly, these jobs are actually pretty attractive. I work in Research Triangle Park a few hours to the east and I personally know some very experienced, savvy folks who left positions at major companies in RTP (Cisco, NetApp, IBM, etc) for the chance to get out of suburbia and go work in these new datacenters. The cost of living is cheap, your neighbor's house isn't three feet from yours, traffic and urban sprawl aren't problems, and there are still large cities relatively close by. There are also several large universities with engineering programs within a few hours of these locations, including NC State (which has the fourth-largest undergraduate engineering enrollment in the country), UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, and Georgia Tech. Right now those universities are cranking out more engineers than the surrounding area can absorb.

Re:Jobs (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256000)

RTP - one of the larger tech places on the east cost is less than 4 hours from these places.

While it is rural - a lot of people don't mind it.

Also - they are data centers.. it's not a huge influx of jobs to begin with.

Re:Jobs (1)

sr8outtalotech (1167835) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256740)

The followup article will be, "Rural Bangalore experiences boom in Systems Administrator jobs." Google, Oracle, MS, et. al all outsource anything low level that can be done remotely.

Isn't it a bit hot there? (3, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254552)

I thought Google and the rest were looking for cool zones like Western New York and upper New England. The air conditioning bill in Carolina will be lower than California, but not by much.

I wonder if Western NC and VA residents will still be stuck on dialup, or if they'll finally get an upgrade since they are so close to the data stores?

Re:Isn't it a bit hot there? (2, Informative)

PawNtheSandman (1238854) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254626)

I'm in NY. They been talking about "Tech Valley" BS for years. AMD has been taking years to build a plant up here, and even when it is ready to open, all the upper tier tech positions are being filled by out of state workers.

The majority of the good jobs are going to local union construction, electricians and plumbers who will be working on the different sites for years, not the local techies.

Here's the update on the "cold" New York places... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34254778)

There's a big lawsuit to stop the place(s) in NY from being built...

http://www.buffalonews.com/city/communities/niagara-county/article253768.ece [buffalonews.com]

Re:Here's the update on the "cold" New York places (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254876)

>>>There's a big lawsuit to stop the place(s) in NY from being built...

Ahhh yes... environmentalists practicing NIMBY. I guess this is democracy in action but it appears to be shooting self in foot - the building would create jobs and possible future growth if Tech/internet companies (like IBM) relocate near the data centers.

"The heart of the suit involves a ruling last month by the Somerset Town Board, after a preliminary assessment, that the project did not merit a full-blown study under the State Environmental Quality Review Act. 'Environmental, zoning and planning laws aren't meant to be set aside when a pet project comes along,' said the attorney who filed the suit in State Supreme Court on behalf of Mary Ann Rizzo, owner of a 117-acre farm across the street."

Re:Isn't it a bit hot there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34254792)

That depends on where in NC they pick. Out at the coast yes it will be rather warm. Up in the mountains where they measure snow fall by the foot... And high temps of mid 90s for a few weeks of the year...

Also people keep in mind these are data centers. Meaning most of the work there is manual IT work. Lugging servers around, plugging cables in, running cable, etc... Most of the neato stuff is run remotely.

Power is these datacenters #1 priority. It is probably the largest recurring cost.

As for dialup for people in the area it is likely. That area is rather rocky. So running cables to a data center not so bad. Running it to every farm/house out there not so much...

Re:Isn't it a bit hot there? (1)

Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255098)

Okay, I'm from the Maiden area, and I'm seeing some misconceptions. So here's a few local facts.First, we are in Western/central NC and not in the mountains. That means lots of red clay, and only mild rockiness. Also, while it is rural, this is not Dogpatch. We've had pretty good broadband penetration for years now. I don't know anybody who doesn't have the choice of of DSL or cable, unless they live very far off the road. It's also not a place of isolated farms. it's pretty built up with lots of subdivisions and rural/transitional housing. Incidentally, the other big reason Apple chose that location was water. There are massive county/city water lines in the area that were originally also there to service the textile plants.

Re:Isn't it a bit hot there? (1)

mikeee (137160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254830)

Not as hot as you might think; most of western North Carolina is at a pretty high altitude and has quite moderate summers. Pre-air-conditioning, summer vacation in the Appalachian mountains was popular among upper class New Yorkers, so...

Re:Isn't it a bit hot there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34255896)

Forest City isn't at pretty high altitude. Summers are smokin' crazy hot there.

Re:Isn't it a bit hot there? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256150)

>>>summer vacation in the [Pennsylvania] Appalachian mountains was popular among upper class New Yorkers...

Fixed that for ya.

Western Carolina is cooler than the eastern side, but still hot. I remember spending my entire Carolina summer trapped in a room, because the outside felt like a sauna, and would have gladly moved further north to NYC or rural PA.

Re:Isn't it a bit hot there? (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255564)

The Carolinas have several somethings which California does not:

* Hard workers. I know the South has a stereotype of laziness, but when it comes to "get'r'done", Southerners are pretty good about it compared to Californians.
* Cost of living. It's not as bad as California.
* Taxes. In this alone, they'll be making more money.
* Reliable infrastructure. From what I've heard about California power and telcom Internet reliability, there's only room for improvement.
* The Carolinas are humid. As I understand things, California is not. Moist air is easier to cool than dry air.

I wonder if Western NC and VA residents will still be stuck on dialup, or if they'll finally get an upgrade since they are so close to the data stores?

I highly doubt there are many places in the US where towns do not have access to broadband. I live in SD, and there are precious few places without a suitable carrier. (I lived in a 'population center' of about 1300 people, an hour from the nearest 50k+ populated area. I had 5/2 Mbit cable.)

Re:Isn't it a bit hot there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34255816)

There are a few things going on in NC that aren't available in the North East...

1) Existing electrical infrastructure due to the furniture industry.
2) Low corporate rates for electricity.
3) Counties and towns ready to screw their populace with incentives to build in their areas.

Power supply (1)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254554)

It's unfortunate that such companies will flock to places that offer cheap but dirty power for their facilities. Google, at least, takes a progressive stance towards these things. Hard to maintain a "green" image if your vital infrastructure intensifies the demand for coal-burning. Harder still if you made the conscious choice to participate in this by moving there.

Re:Power supply (2, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254642)

It's unfortunate that such companies will flock to places that offer cheap but dirty power for their facilities. Google, at least, takes a progressive stance towards these things. Hard to maintain a "green" image if your vital infrastructure intensifies the demand for coal-burning. Harder still if you made the conscious choice to participate in this by moving there.

There's a lot of nuclear power in NC too. Coal-burning in the US isn't particularly dirty either.

Re:Power supply (1)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254786)

Not the dirtiest, no, but it isn't like nuclear power is a tremendous feature of wester N.C. According to this region's power supplier, coal and oil-fired plants make up at least two-thirds [duke-energy.com] of the electricity generation, splitting the rest between nuclear (most of it) and hydro plants.

Re:Power supply (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256188)

Not the dirtiest, no, but it isn't like nuclear power is a tremendous feature of wester N.C. According to this region's power supplier, coal and oil-fired plants make up at least two-thirds of the electricity generation, splitting the rest between nuclear (most of it) and hydro plants.

Some remarks here. The "oil-fired" plants are mostly natural gas peaking generation. What that means is that base load is over a third nuclear. And base line power is really what a data center pulls. It might not be as "green" as power generated in the Pacific northwest, but that's pretty green by US standards IMHO.

Re:Power supply (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255510)

Dirty coal is why ACEEE.org ranked the EV1 and other electric cars as no cleaner than a Prius and about 10% dirtier than an Insight Hybrid or Civic CNG.

I've had EV activists tell me "clean coal is the answer!", because the factories remove 99.9% of the pollutants, but so far it's not had much impact cleaning the air.

Re:Power supply (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256072)

I've had EV activists tell me "clean coal is the answer!", because the factories remove 99.9% of the pollutants, but so far it's not had much impact cleaning the air.

Uh huh. Ignorance must be bliss. "Clean coal" isn't going to show much of an improvement in overall air quality because coal burning no longer is a major contributor in the first place. It's like expecting to get slim and trim because you drink diet cola after finishing off your tub of ice cream.

Re:Power supply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34255624)

It's unfortunate that such companies will flock to places that offer cheap but dirty power for their facilities. Google, at least, takes a progressive stance towards these things. Hard to maintain a "green" image if your vital infrastructure intensifies the demand for coal-burning. Harder still if you made the conscious choice to participate in this by moving there.

There's a lot of nuclear power in NC too. Coal-burning in the US isn't particularly dirty either.

It is if you want to fish almost anywhere these days. All lakes and riivers are basically fucked. All thanks to the "clean" coal burning.

http://www.pennenvironment.org/newsroom/clean-water-news/clean-water-news/warnings-for-mercury-in-fish-blanket-pennsylvanias-waterways-controversial-bush-plan-would-delay-cleanup-for-at-least-10-years

The same thing for almost ALL states.

Why? Most mercury is never caught in the precipitators. It is now so bad that ocean fish are dying from mercury poisoning. But I guess if you don't see it, it can't affect you, right???

Re:Power supply (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255966)

It is if you want to fish almost anywhere these days. All lakes and riivers are basically fucked. All thanks to the "clean" coal burning.

I don't see that. Hysterical mercury warnings aren't equivalent to "all lakes and rivers basically fucked up".

As to your link, the article states that technology for cleaning up mercury from coal-burning plants exists. So if mercury emissions from coal burning plants ever do become a problem (rather than something to oppose merely because G. W. Bush was for it), then we can reduce mercury emissions as desired.

Re:Power supply (1)

Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254932)

Are you kidding? Google was first in with their data center in Lenoir, NC.

Local broadband (1)

chill (34294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254568)

As someone who is considering moving to, and settling in western North Carolina (maybe Asheville), my question is how will this affect the availability of broadband connections to local businesses and residents?

These facilities seem to cluster just west of Charlotte, NC. They're definitely going to be bringing in ample amounts of backbone connections in.

How is the bandwidth in the area now, and is there any record of how network access improved when data centers were brought in at other rural locations around the country?

Re:Local broadband (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34254972)

We're all stuck on Time Warner, who essentially owns the state. The cost per megabit down is enormous, and the most they offer up is 512k. I get better, cheaper speeds tethered through my Droid on verizon.

Communities are getting smart though. They will all pitch in to get a business-class fiber pipe to the area and share the costs.

Re:Local broadband (1)

dkuntz (220364) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256144)

Asheville has Charter, or AT&T. There's also Skyrunner, which is a wireless broadband provider, using Point to Point, with speeds over 30mbit in both directions, as long as you have LoS to a tower.

Asheville has a ton of bandwidth however. There is a datacenter here, with quite a bit of bandwidth (240gbit in place), as well (oh, and it's been here since before 2005).

Hey wow, this is true, I live here. (5, Informative)

Chitlenz (184283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254572)

It's been strange to see this happen. We live right in the center of all this (near Winston-Salem, apple is 45 minutes south, and google is 20 minutes west) and I have to say, these places are not subtle. These places are HUGE. I think the Elkin/Google installation is like 250 acres, which is silly huge. It makes sense, land out here is cheap but you are still 5 hours from DC which in itself is priceless for corporations (the big ones). Add in tax breaks, an evolving biotech industry (like us... we hope!), and lots of geeks near-local (the triangle with IBM/Glaxo/Redhat/Epic Games/Etc. is 2 hours east) and it seems obvious. The nice part for people who live here is that bandwidth is really really good in order to feed all these guys. REALLY good :)

Re:Hey wow, this is true, I live here. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34254704)

The article was light on details, but the reason why companies typically do this is because the states hand out idiotically huge tax incentives that there's no way will ever be paid off by the presence of the company. By the time the jobs would be around for long enough to finally start to break even, it's been long enough that the companies have started looking around for who's going to offer the best tax incentives for them to either upgrade their facilities to stay or move. The small reasons you mention aren't particularly special -- many, many places of other geek companies within 2 hours, and being 5 hours from DC is a joke of a reason; it's almost certainly about nothing other than getting ridiculous handouts given by desperate leaders in order to make them look good at any cost to their constituents. See also sports team stadiums.

Re:Hey wow, this is true, I live here. (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254816)

Companies (and sports teams) having been whoring themselves out to the highest taxpayer bidder this way for years.

Re:Hey wow, this is true, I live here. (2, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254938)

it's not like states and localities will collect any taxes if companies don't open up there? might as well give out some nice breaks which are just making up for crazy tax laws in this country for corporations. it's not like tax payers will pay anything. in the end the infrastructure spending will be good for the local areas

Re:Hey wow, this is true, I live here. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254944)

And most of the employees coming in would be solid middle class democrats, who would not tolerate local rural schools boards being too creationism friendly or glossing over the history of slavery and civil rights movement. Rural NC politicians are going to be shocked when they get beaten by gay friendly, neutral-on-gun-rights candidates.

Re:Hey wow, this is true, I live here. (4, Interesting)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255172)

Historically NC has been called, the vale of humility between two mountains of conceit (SC/VA). I'll admit they have their share of rednecks and old boys, but that state is a hell of a lot more progressive than the adjacent areas. It is a shame that they automatically get lumped into cousin-fucker stereotypes, because they have tried really hard while their neighbors wallow in their own shit, jump for handouts and fight tooth and nail to stay in the past. I say this as a South Carolinian.

Re:Hey wow, this is true, I live here. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255978)

>>>middle class democrats, who would not tolerate...glossing over the history of slavery and civil rights movement.

They are the ones who conveniently forget the 1st Civil Rights movement of the 1770s-90s (when blacks were no longer "slaves" under UK law & gained equal status north of Washington DC), or the 2nd Civil Rights movement of the 1870-80s when blacks were elected to Southern Legislatures, or the 1900s when a Democrat-run Supreme Court issued a decree that forced the entire nation to adopt racial Segregation.

Or the 1950s and 60s filibusters by democrats like Senator Byrd to block the passage of the 3rd era of Civil Rights laws.

Inconvenient history indeed.

Re:Hey wow, this is true, I live here. (4, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254956)

The article was light on details, but the reason why companies typically do this is because the states hand out idiotically huge tax incentives that there's no way will ever be paid off by the presence of the company.

I've never heard of them actually paying for the federal taxes, just agreeing to not charge all the normal taxes the state does. So how does the state or locality have to pay off anything to break even? Even if they charge no taxes at all, the presence of the company will bring in income tax, sales tax from employees and all the stuff they buy and all the temporary construction workers in the area.

By the time the jobs would be around for long enough to finally start to break even, it's been long enough that the companies have started looking around for who's going to offer the best tax incentives for them to either upgrade their facilities to stay or move.

I still don't see this "break even" you're talking about. Jobs come in for a while. It's doubtful any of these companies are going to move these data centers ever, as they are huge investments. They might not expand them if they get a better deal elsewhere, but even if they did close one, they'd sell it off and another company would open a datacenter there. Nobody just shutters a billion dollar datacenter and lets it sit empty.

it's almost certainly about nothing other than getting ridiculous handouts given by desperate leaders in order to make them look good at any cost to their constituents. See also sports team stadiums.

I've certainly seen some crazy things with stadiums, like subsidies, but then those stadiums often bring a lot of money into a community as well. I guess I'd just have to see some real hard numbers on the situation before I dismiss this as a political stunt that harms their constituency. I read an article or two on most of these and all I saw were tax breaks with a bunch of conditions (healthcare for employees, move into one of several very poor areas, etc.). As far as I an tell, it's the state giving up tax revenue they would not get anyway if these companies chose another location.

Re:Hey wow, this is true, I live here. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256062)

>>>Even if they charge no taxes at all, the presence of the company will bring in income tax, sales tax from employees and all the stuff they buy and all the temporary construction workers in the area.
>>>

Disagree. This is the same logic flaw politicians make when they justify building a new sadidum for the football/baseball team. They spend MORE money building the structure than what the stadium generates in the nearby neighborhood. Likewise the thousands of dollars collected from the ~1000 additional workers will not offset the loss of millions handed-out to Google, ATT, et cetera.

Re:Hey wow, this is true, I live here. (1)

Chitlenz (184283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255390)

I agree with you really, note that before Google and Apple came Dell... who closed within 5 years or so after receiving a ton of tax breaks. That said, what makes rural areas a little different is that when there is a tech concentration, that's just about all there is so the economy for the local area really does get directly affected (instead of Atlanta, DC, New York, et al. who all have super-diverse industrial makeups... out here its farming or IT) . You are right though, subsidies seem to rarely pay for themselves.

Re:Hey wow, this is true, I live here. (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255398)

It's not that simple though. There's lots of things to consider in these kinds of deals. Typically the corporation itself is given excellent tax breaks (though they usually pay some pittance) , but they provide jobs (in this case pretty good ones most likely) which leads to income tax and lower unemployment. They attract new people to the area which increases sales and property taxes. There's good political capital in being able to point at the big new employer you brought in. They buy energy, water, and bandwidth which is either sold directly by the local government (for a small profit) or taxed by the local government. They provide commerce to local business, which do pay taxes (not to mention that *they* hire more people, which means more income tax, and more "lower unemployment" political capital). All that for giving away a bit of money that you never had in the first place. I'm probably not even scratching the surface either.

Re:Hey wow, this is true, I live here. (1)

nsebban (513339) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256448)

I tried looking for these but couldn't really find anything, not knowing that region at all. Would you mind posting a couple google maps links to these places ?

Thanks a lot in advance !

holy shit i'm horny (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34254576)

i need to suck a cock NOW!

(who doesn't like having a little bajizzle dripping though your beard?)

Grrrreat.... (1)

gaelfx (1111115) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254578)

So now that all the eggs are in one basket (except MS, but do they matter any more?), who wants to take bets on how long before DHS drops a brick and decides these data centers ought to be a little more spread out?

Re:Grrrreat.... (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254656)

Nah, they'll just institute some kind of security screening and full-body-scan protocol for anyone entering/exiting the entire 500sq.km area.

Avoiding taxes and high energy costs (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254618)

Now we know the simple formula for attracting large data centers.

Anyone else going to follow NC's lead?

Re:Avoiding taxes and high energy costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34255348)

As part of the formula I think you need to have excess power. Constructing a new power plant just for these guys would cost a state more than the benefits they get.

Re:Avoiding taxes and high energy costs (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255486)

Yeah the real trick here is the infrastructure left over from the old industrial economy. Detroit and other rust belt areas might be able to pull something like this off, but $randomruralcounty isn't going to have everything a datacenter needs hooked up and ready to go.

Kinda weird seeing these towns on /. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34254620)

I live within a few miles of Kings Mountain and Maiden. These are towns where the newspapers' front page stories are about things like a cow escaping from a barn and causing a ruckus as local residents stepped out of their homes to look at it as it walked by (big story from sometime last year). Getting this kind of investment from big tech companies will definitely have a huge impact. It'll be interesting to see how these quiet, unknown towns change in the next five or ten years.

Re:Kinda weird seeing these towns on /. (4, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254728)

Same basic news stories - except you'll be reading about how a Linux nerd escaped from a nearby data centre, causing a ruckus as local residents stepped out of their homes to gawk at the delicate, pasty white skin.

Re:Kinda weird seeing these towns on /. (1)

Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254952)

I live just outside of Maiden and went to the town council meeting where the data center was announced. It was surreal. The town council clearly had no idea what this thing was all about, other than it was huge and would be a good thing.

Re:Kinda weird seeing these towns on /. (1)

kiveya (1864740) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256434)

I used to live in Kings Mountain, I agree, it was weird to see it on the /. feed. I used to tell all my friends that the biggest thing in Kings Mountain was its cemetery. I guess I'll have to change my saying, but data center just doesn't have the same ring to it.

BOOM or BOON ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34254796)

Which way to the front ?? I wanna get me one of them medals of onurs !!

In a related story (0, Flamebait)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254804)

Eastern North Carolina still sucks.

Jobless Recovery?? (2, Insightful)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254854)

Fine, okay, I am glad that Western North Carolina is going to get these data centers. But, are these companies planning on using local talent or importing talent from other areas? I would be happier if these companies planned on hiring local people and providing training opportunities. The reality of this data center boom is that very few of the local residents will realize any benefit beyond low level employment as cleaners or security guards and there will be very few jobs.

Re:Jobless Recovery?? (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254894)

I'm willing to bet they'll go for the best talent that's willing to be there, just like a lot of places.

Re:Jobless Recovery?? (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254936)

Even if that occurs, it's not such a bad place to start.

Re:Jobless Recovery?? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34254994)

"But, are these companies planning on using local talent or importing talent from other areas?"

Well, by definition, once 'imported' talent comes to live and work there, it becomes 'local' talent.

I'm sure they'll be happy to hire anyone already there that fits the bill, but if nothing else, it can bring in an influx of new people that will help the area with a better tax base, etc.

Re:Jobless Recovery?? (2, Interesting)

Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255000)

This is true. I live about 10 minutes from the Apple data center in Maiden. When it goes online, they expect to only employ about 50 people, and most of them will be imports. Still though, I've been impressed at how little a footprint they have left. The place is insanely huge, but if you didn't know it was there, you might miss it. It doesn't even seem to have any lights shining up in the air at night. They also kept things tidy during construction, even washing down the roads to prevent mud and dust.

Re:Jobless Recovery?? (3, Interesting)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255004)

Even if they do import people from other areas in the country, the locals will still see an employment boom. Housing construction, road improvements, restaurants, retail centers, need for more teachers, etc. I have family that lives on the other side of the Appalachians in Tennessee, so I've seen this area of NC a lot. In a lot of areas of western NC, especially up in the mountains, there is nothing. And what there is can be few and far between. This will be a boon not only to the towns they are built by, but all the surrounding towns as well. A lot of these support jobs may not pay much, but it's a lot better than some of the options available there now.

As a side note, I've seen inner city Atlanta and some of the worst areas in that town, and I've seen back in the mountains in the southern Appalachians. If you think inner cities are poverty, you haven't seen anything until you go into the mountains.

Re:Jobless Recovery?? (1)

pigah (695476) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255186)

So how do 50 jobs bring a boom in housing? These data centers are a boon to Duke Energy and a minor improvement for the locale.

Re:Jobless Recovery?? (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255412)

Assuming 50 jobs per company. Several companies move into the area. So, 200 jobs(can assume about 400-600 more people if employees bring families). Many of those people have families, they need houses to be built(as there are not many vacant houses in this area). Construction workers come in, or locals are hired. More money in the area, means people have more money to spend on stuff. More demand calls for more supply, so stores are built and open up, bringing in more construction jobs, as well as retail/service jobs. More people will move into the area as it develops, meaning more even houses are constructed, and more jobs available. And even Duke power will have to hire more people to deal with the increase demand and use of energy-more linesmen, more technicians, etc.

Re:Jobless Recovery?? (1)

pigah (695476) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255758)

While I don't doubt that there will be some add on jobs due to a multiplier, the incentives that are being paid for these data centers are ridiculous. A Business Week article (http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/7_30/b4043066.htm) estimates that the state and county are paying $1 million (over 30 years) for each job created by the Google deal. That is just terrible planning. Furthermore, these data centers are end user facilities. Aside from the electricity, which won't produce a lot of jobs, there will probably be no local suppliers that pop up nearby, nor is it likely that any technological innovation will be developed here. While some incentives can be worthwhile, North Carolina wasted money on these.

Re:Jobless Recovery?? (1)

Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255266)

I live there. They will only be hiring about 50 people. There will not be a housing boom because there is plenty of good, cheap housing available for great prices (I should know as I'm trying to sell my house). The road improvements for Apple were minimal and are long done. I doubt 50 new people will be needing more teachers, restaurants, retail centers, etc. It will be a long-term bump for the tax base once the incentives run out, but not much else. Perhaps some increased corporate giving to local charities.

Re:Jobless Recovery?? (1)

arcsimm (1084173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255734)

A guy from my old Mechwarrior gaming clan worked with Google on their datacenter (we were rather amused that he'd been picked up by Google, since his self-admitted nickname was "The Toothless Hillbilly!"). By the time he was done on that project, though, he had a somewhat dim opinion [banzaiinstitute.net] of Google's corporate culture, though. I wonder if they and other firms will continue to have issues with "culture shock" with regard to local employees and neighbors.

Re:Jobless Recovery?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34255870)

If you think inner cities are poverty, you haven't seen anything until you go into the mountains.

There is no poverty like rural poverty (at least in any developed country). If you're in the city there are still plenty of opportunities to get that hustle on, notwithstanding the particular safety/legality of said hustle. Out in the country you have VERY few options.

Re:Jobless Recovery?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34255642)

Considering I live within 2 miles of King's Mountain, and have been job searching for over a year without luck, I'm agreeing with you. The tech sector down here is severely lacking in opportunities, most of the positions I see are for the Research Triangle area several hours away. I still see the same "Senior Administrator" and "Senior Programmer" positions reposted in the Charlotte area constantly, with the same crazy requirements that no one ever fits, of course.

I loved North Carolina (1)

NetNinja (469346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255718)

Being stationed in North Carolina I learned to love living in a slow pace type of town.

I always said if you wanted to raise a family there it was a good place to do it.

But remember just because they move a big honking Data Center there doesn't mean the pay is going to be comparable to what you are making in your metropolitan city.

Don't expect 60k a year jobs while they could hire someone out of college for 30k and call it a good living wage.

I will gladly go back there... (1)

ndtechnologies (814381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34255842)

My family still lives in FC, and I will gladly move back there if we can get some more tech in the area. With all of the abandoned textile mills, it would be dirt cheap to raze it and build something new, plus bandwidth is cheap too (and electricity). Plus it is a BEAUTIFUL area, with Lake Lure only 20 minutes west.

These data centers are pointless for locals (1)

sirwired (27582) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256236)

I haven't the least freaking clue why municipalities and states fall all over themselves to recruit these data centers. In return for a finite good (the available electrical power off the grid), and waiving pretty much all taxes, they get only a tiny handful of jobs. And most of the jobs are NOT high-skill or high-paid, because the jobs in the data center itself revolve almost solely around equipment maintenance. The "high-tech" work is pretty much all done remotely.

I guess it's not bad for a temporary blip in the construction industry, but I'm not sure that's worth the cost. That available grid capacity could almost certainly be put to better use running an office park or a factory.

Not *Western* North carolina. (1)

fortfive (1582005) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256328)

Western NC is where the mountains are. I live here. These counties are in the PIedmont (maybe, I don't know where "Maiden" is). Regardless, they are most certainly not in Western NC.

//end nativist rant

Re:Not *Western* North carolina. (1)

Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256412)

Very true. And Maiden is about an hour north of Charlotte. Firmly in the Piedmont.

red state huh? (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256416)

Good thing all that big govt infrastructure exists in this red state
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