An interesting transition

I just came across this story:

Data Center Eyed for West Virginia Quarry
A West Virginia quarry initially targeted for a National Park Service museum may instead be redeveloped as a data center project, according to local media. The former Old Standard Quarry near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia has been the focus of several development proposals. At a meeting of the Jefferson County Commission last week, officials were told that Washington, D.C. developer Orr Partners has proposed a data center for the site. Builders “would literally dig into the hillside” to build the data center operations, then cover it with soil, commissioners were told. Only about six or seven employees would work at the site, according to a presentation by Davis Carter Scott Architecture.

Discussions have been ongoing for about a year over ways to develop the old quarry. A $250 million office development project was dropped amid concerns about how it would affect nearby Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. The site was then considered for a National Park Service museum, but officials said last week that idea is off the drawing board.

I think this is an interesting way to leverage something that was considered a disadvantage into an advantage.

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0 Responses to An interesting transition

  1. mikel says:

    I think that one works against your main theme. You can call it the ‘Irvingification effect’ of economic development-throw out any idea that would service the community (a museum) and basically hand it over to developers (who would still have to run hydro to the area).

    And all that for the sake of six jobs!

    Compared to a deal like that you’d be better off in tourism! A museum could very well have a better effect at getting outside money into a local community. It may not, but look at the jobs created at PEI’s retail park on the far side of the bridge.

    The argument could be made that this would have higher paying jobs, but thats not definite, and for a province or area of chronic under-employment you can argue whether its better to have lots of lower paying jobs or fewer high pay ones.

    If these data centres only employ that many people and don’t really offer any special programs to locals, I think your better off sticking with the animation theme-you’ve basically just told policy planners that they’d be NUTS to be going after this sector.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I find it ironic at the very least that we are now discussing the prospect of refusing something that ONLY brings 6 jobs to the province. Isnt it wonderful to be so snowed under with opportunities that we can turn our noses up at stuff like this?
    A grip needs to be got!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Your thinking is sound.

    The tar ponds cleaning could be used as a launching point to establish world class toxic clean up cabaility.

    The Halifax and Saint John harbour clean ups used as a catayst for harbour clean up capability.

    The abundant dirty coal in NB/NS to stimulate clean coal technology.

    The empty pulp digesters used to launch world class bio refinery capabilities.

    Viewing adversity with this attitude has helped Summerside’s closed air base establish a meaningful aerospace industry.

    I am not advocating that the above ideas are valid but I sure advocate the way of thinking.

  4. mikel says:

    The opportunity above doesn’t even exist for NB, so its hardly the case that people are turning up their noses to it.

    However, this is VERY pertinent because we have a similar case like the above in NB,namely the LNG terminal. Yes, there is construction, but that is short term and in the end Irving states that it will create only eight jobs.

    And for that the government changed legislation that had been used for forty years to ensure fair taxation and get ED out of the 1800’s. As I’ve mentioned before, even the National Post came down on that decision.

    Why this is a problem is because of the theory that political decisions only have short term consequences. The people of NB may not have any opportunities to discuss it, but corporations have dozens, even hundreds of employees whose job it is to know every little thing about perspective locations where their industry will be located.

    So living in a province which basically has a feudal economy is NOT one where corporations are happy. Legislation in north america is typically a lobbying war between different business factions. A good example is the US and health care-many companies want universal health care because they are getting killed by insurance. They are battling the insurance industry itself.

    Every company knows this, and it knows that if you set up in NB then the effectiveness of your lobbying will be seriously curtailed by what the Irving/McCain families want.

    Unfortunately the attitude above is the one that usually wins out-to the detriment of the population. Getting ‘investment at any cost’ means some of the worst polluters have shown up with little regulation or enforcement, and often with taxpayers help.

    And again, its limited vision to see only one side of that issue. A museum can employ lots of people, perhaps even more than a data centre if its done right. So its not a question of banning development, its picking which development is the right one.

  5. Anonymous says:

    About 60 years ago, Hamilton Ontario decided to convert a spent quarrie into a park. Within 20 year, Hamilton’s Royal Botanical Gardens had become a world-renowned center not only as a garden, but as a botanical center for research.

    Further investigation would be required to determine whether more than 6 or 7 jobs were created.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The point here should not be about there being ONLY 6 jobs but lets get the 6 jobs in and then work out how we can expand that number into satellite services, alternate solutions etc etc. Mikel makes some very good points but we have to realign our focus and broaden our horizons. Little acorns and great oaks and all that.

  7. mikel says:

    I can vouch for the above, I lived in Hamilton for several years. I had no idea that that is where the botanical gardens came from, however, it really is a wonder of nature. I live in Waterloo, and even though Hamilton is heavily polluted I’d prefer living there to here.

    However, the royal botanical gardens DON”T ‘make money’, they cost money-a LOT of money. The year we were leaving they were saying they were going to close down because they didn’t have enough money to continue. THis made all levels of government pony up dough.

    That’s more a ‘standard of living’ kind of argument. However, it seems a dream that around Edmunston they started a ‘botanical gardens’ a few years ago as a tourist draw. There is BIG money in nature, which is another reason why Irving doesn’t like talking about it. Unlike most of north america, New Brunswickers actually own most of the land they are on. It’s no coincidence that NB has perhaps the smallest percentage of land taken up in national or provincial parks.

    To the above, I again reiterate that its a big mistake to just take any business that comes along and hope to expand on them later. It’s rarely the case of ‘this or nothing’, we even know how much trouble gas companies are having finding sites for terminals, so the bad argument that Jim Irving threatened to not build if they didn’t get a tax break is a pretty stupid one, there would have been another company right behind BIDDING to get a terminal in there.