Written by Neabsco District Supervisor Victor Angry
In recent years, residents of Prince William County have likely heard me promote the financial benefits data centers bring to our county. The tax revenue they generate and will continue to contribute for years to come is essential to our ability to boost funding for schools, social services and other county priorities while decreasing the tax burden on county homeowners.
What often goes unheralded, however, are the many ways data centers and their employees contribute to and strengthen our community. In 2022 alone, those contributions have had a tremendous impact.
Educating Prince William County students and cultivating their interest in STEM and related careers is one important way data centers make our communities better.
In 2019, Amazon Web Services (AWS) partnered with Prince William County Schools and the Spark Foundation to open the first ever Think Big Space at River Oaks Elementary School. The learning space is designed to promote career awareness, engineering design, coding, and gamification.
AWS has also partnered with SPARK and the Children’s Science Center to create sustainable STEM enrichment opportunities for 4th and 5th grade students across Prince William County, particularly benefiting title I schools. This pilot project aims to increase students’ enthusiasm, exposure, and competencies in STEM, while also providing STEM resources to targeted schools with no science labs.
Data center company QTS partners with Prince William County Public Schools to provide internships and promote career paths leading to jobs in the data center industry. QTS also sponsors the Prince William Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to graduating high school seniors who have shown a commitment to academic excellence and community involvement.
And as they have done since 2018, AFCOM Potomac Chapter provided paid internships for undergraduate students within the data center community.
Data centers and their employees also support efforts to help those in need in our county. Last fall, AWS employees volunteered for the Northern Virginia Family Services Operation Turkey event to unload and sort food donations to provide food for holiday meals to more than 1,000 Prince William County families. Employees of data center company Iron Mountain volunteered and donated food to thrift and food pantry House of Mercy.
Data center company Digital Realty hosted a charity golf tournament and heart walk that raised $93,552 in donations for the Greater Washington American Heart Association. Iron Mountain donated cash and staff volunteers for both the Freedom Firecracker 5K and the Prince William Turkey Trot with proceeds going to Hero’s Bridge to support elderly veterans.
Finally, the Data Center Coalition (DCC) partnered with the American Red Cross of Loudoun and Prince William Counties to host the #DataCentersSleevesUp blood drive to help address the critical blood shortage of blood across the United States. 12 DCC member data center companies participated in the campaign logging a total of 502 blood donations, enough to save approximately 1,500 lives.
As an industry, data centers have shown their commitment to improving the communities in which their employees live and work. Prince William County and its residents have benefited from data centers’ donations of time, money, and talent in 2022. I’m looking forward to seeing new and continuing contributions from the data center industry to the county, our schools, and our citizens in 2023.
Victor Angry represents the Neabsco District on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors serving his second term.