Information technology has been expanding for several decades, and North Carolina has several IT firms in the Research Triangle Park and other locations. But a new part of the IT sector is emerging in our state. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden explains.
“It’s called data centers, and primarily they are located in the western part of our state. And what these are are simply large storage facilities for data for the big information technology providers. These can be put virtually any place in the country. The attractiveness of western North Carolina for these data centers is, number one, there’s available land. In many cases there are available buildings that perhaps were being used for other purposes previously.
“And these data centers need power. They need electricity. And the western part of our state has, for example, a lot of hydro power as well as other sources of power. So, this is an emerging area/ industry for North Carolina as well as for the country.
“I think data use is probably going to get bigger. And although there are not a lot of jobs per se associated with these individual data centers, the fact that there’s investment money coming in — being spent on construction — obviously there (are) going to be some purchases in terms of operating expenses by these data centers.
“Clearly this is a plus in terms of the employment aspect for western North Carolina.”