Clint Heiden, Chief Revenue Officer of QTS Realty Trust, Inc., discussed the Richmond area Network Access Point (NAP) — where data center, subsea fiber and terrestrial networks converge — as a factor in drawing large technology and Internet companies to Greater Richmond.

QTS, a leading provider of data center solutions, along with Telxius, a telecom infrastructure provider responsible for subsea Internet cables MAREA and BRUSA, created the new Richmond NAP. The NAP allows customers to complete high-speed international networking without having to collocate in or connect through the Ashburn, Va., mega center.

“The subsea cables that terminate in Richmond have opened an amazing opportunity for Henrico County to become a LOCUS for both domestic and international applications. That gives good reason for the creation of the QTS Richmond NAP, a place where multiple providers and Internet services can meet, connect and reach the international cables that link Virginia to other parts of the world.” – Vint Cerf, Chief Evangelist for Google, also known as one of the co-inventers of the Internet.

The Richmond NAP will offer the fastest, lowest-latency connectivity in North America from the U.S. to Southern Europe, Latin and South America.

Heiden responded to several questions on the Richmond NAP and why the world’s largest technology and Internet companies are coming to Henrico County:

Q. Why is it an opportune time for infrastructure investment?

A. The confluence of the MAREA/BRUSA next-generation subsea cables and the QTS Richmond NAP are establishing Richmond as the premier North American global interconnection hub. There have been some significant investments in Henrico recently. In just two years since the cable landing deployment, Henrico County accounted for 53% of announced statewide investments in Data Processing and Hosting, compared to just 6% during the nine-year period from 2008 to 2016, according to Mangum Economics for the Northern Va. Technology Council in 2018.

It’s amazing when you consider the technology and business influence global leaders have. Their interest validates the importance of the subsea cables terminating in Henrico County and the business ecosystems that are being created. In addition to the obvious value to Henrico, this new NAP is important to the growth of the Internet and its data flow allowing for a bypass of Ashburn, which is becoming congested and overly expensive.

Q. What are the forces driving the Richmond NAP?

A. If you think your business is not a data business, then you are late to the game. Just think about banking: if I can’t bank online I’ll switch to another bank. Likewise, if you don’t understand that once on the Internet your business is global, then you’re missing growth opportunities and not thinking big enough. The NAP addresses both of these issues. In addition, new applications and services are generating staggering increases in data production that are fueling dramatic growth in demand for local, regional, national and global connectivity that rely on subsea cables as the cornerstone for global interconnection and transmission.

Richmond is an ideal geographic location for North American continental access of subsea cables and all forms of interconnection mentioned previously. The QTS Richmond NAP is one of the world’s largest carrier-neutral data centers as well as a business-friendly environment. Facebook has begun their multi-billion investment adjacent to the Richmond NAP, along with Bank of America and Kinsale Insurance who are expanding their operations in Henrico County. These are just three of many enterprises making major investments in data-driven infrastructure in the region. The region is also creating a business ecosystem for entrepreneurial firms and is becoming an area of incubation for startups led by students coming out of leading surrounding state universities.

Q. What are the technological advancements making the QTS Richmond NAP a reality?

A. Good question and it’s about more than just technology. Henrico County has been at the forefront of attracting investment from network and data center providers due to a combination of business-friendly policies, attractive land for development, scalable power and a highly educated workforce in the county and surrounding areas. As a result, the area has a rich tapestry of existing fiber networks, Internet exchanges, SDN networks and data centers serving thousands of customers.

In just the last two years you have the arrival of both the MAREA and BRUSA subsea cables, along with the Facebook investment. These are transformative events that have opened the European, Latin and South American markets to the region via the lowest latency and highest capacity ever deployed between the continents.

Then when you consider the performance enabled by these subsea cables, it all becomes clear. MAREA and BRUSA are the highest capacity, lowest latency subsea cable systems ever built. MAREA is a Telxius joint project with Facebook and Microsoft. Innovations in optical transmission are enabling staggering increases in capacity. MAREA has reached 200 terabits per second (Tbps) of ultrahigh transmission capacity and is the highest capacity subsea cable system across the Atlantic connecting the US and Southern Europe.

BRUSA is a private cable built by Telxius and offers one of the lowest latency communication links between the U.S. and Brazil. Together, these cables provide state-of-the-art connectivity to enable the development of next generation cloud services and content distribution to and from Latin America and European markets.

To put this next-generation capacity and speed into perspective, 200 terabits per second is the equivalent of being able to download 12,000 HD movies per second, or every movie ever made in 42 seconds! This compares with cable systems developed as recently as 2013 that only delivered 9 Tbps.

Another major advancement is innovation in optical transmission that is enabling a new interconnection model where subsea cables can now terminate directly inside a multi-tenant data center rather than the traditional cable landing station (CLS) typically near a beach with limited interconnect options. Today’s data-intensive applications are driving demand for capacity and performance that is better served by terminating subsea cables directly in a connectivity-rich NAP as close as possible to the CLS.

Also in the works are numerous additional subsea cable terminations in the Richmond NAP that will connect the continents of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, as well as a second path to Europe.

Q. Why did Telxius choose Richmond and QTS for the cable terminations?

A. Because of its speed and proximity to the rest of the US, Richmond is the best access point into North America — more so than older cable landings in Florida, New York and New Jersey. QTS’ Richmond data center is one of the world’s largest and features in-building access to a wide array of on-net carriers including multiple fiber routes, third-party neutral Internet peering exchanges, and direct access to the world’s largest cloud platforms.

The Richmond NAP provides unmatched speed and savings for enterprises and hyperscalers that no longer must route their content through exchanges in Northern Virginia. Traffic can now be routed to major metropolitan areas like Philadelphia, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Cleveland and many more areas faster and cheaper than relying on Northern Virginia. Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Google have established, or are in the process of establishing, a presence in the region to take advantage of the new opportunity.

Q. How important are the cables to the global economy?

A. The Internet and its growth, such as the new QTS Richmond NAP, means every company is global and as such has access to new customers, technologies and even employees. Just a few years ago you rarely heard talk about subsea cables when you were talking about data center infrastructure. Today, virtually every data center is making interconnection with subsea cables a priority to support data-driven global business. And it’s reflected in the international capacity deployed by the big content, cloud and hyperscale companies increasing 14-fold between 2012 to 2016, according to TeleGeography. They recognize the need to be where the subsea cables terminate to get the direct, many-to-many global connectivity that enables them to provide their customers with private and proximate connections to the Internet ecosystems that grow around it.

Every global business is now required to collaborate with partners instantly, across oceans, and meet user expectations for high-performance connectivity anytime, anywhere. This is not possible with conventional IT architectures where data is transmitted via lower latency networks and across distant, centralized corporate data centers. Subsea cables are the only option for extending businesses globally.

The global economy is quickly taking shape and every business is considering new growth strategies. Those that eliminate geographic boundaries and allow for the elegant movement of data across new paths such as MAREA and BRUSA to access new markets will be successful. Those that do not will be left behind.

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Individuals of all walks of life are flocking to the region of Greater Richmond for its abundant opportunities. As more opportunities arise, so does the population, which has increased steadily from 2010 to 2018.

According to new data released by the United States Census Bureau, the Greater Richmond Region has grown 9 percent during the last eight years, adding approximately 85,000 net new residents to the area. On average since 2010, Greater Richmond gained 205 new residents every week.

The U.S. population is about 327 million with roughly 8.5 million residents in the state of Virginia. Now with 1.3 million people in the Richmond Metro Statistical Area, it is the nation’s 45th largest populated area.

Population growth in greater richmond virginia

Together, the City of Richmond and counties of Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico make up the Richmond Region. While the City of Richmond is Virginia’s fourth-largest city, its population grew the most across the state with a 12 percent increase between 2010 and 2018. The counties of Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico increased 9.9, 7.3 and 7.1 percent, respectively.

The steady population surge of these localities has been driven by an increased birth rate, as well as domestic and international migration. According to the Census Bureau, the Richmond Metropolitan Statistics Area (MSA) saw an increase of roughly 33,000 in domestic migration and 27,000 in international migration.

According to the American Community Survey 2012 – 2016, roughly 10,200 individuals moved from Washington, D.C., to Greater Richmond. More than 7,300 people moved from the Hampton Roads Region, 3,200 moved from New York and 1,800 moved from Charlottesville. The average age of in-migrating residents is 26 years old.

The population increase in Greater Richmond over the last eight years has contributed to the region’s civilian labor force of roughly 680,000 people.

View Richmond Region Labor Statistics

Virginia rises in 2019 ‘best states’ rankings

Do call it a comeback. After leading the nation as a top state for business for years, Virginia had slowly and silently fallen in several rankings for business. But after major changes within the state including a reorganization at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership led by president and CEO Stephen Moret, Virginia is now rising in several key measures for business.

The latest ranking from U.S. News Best States Rankings shows Virginia jumping from #20 to #7. The state’s fiscal stability was of particular note jumping from #14 to #8. This comes on the heels of Virginia jumping two spots to the #13 best state for business by Chief Executive. Virginia has also moved up in key business climate rankings from CNBC and Forbes.

In addition, earlier this month, Site Selection Magazine named Virginia Economic Development Partnership the “most competitive state-level economic development group” in the country, thanks in large part to winning Amazon HQ2 for the state which will also double the tech talent pipeline throughout the Commonwealth.

“With the full implementation of several recently funded initiatives, such as Virginia’s historic tech-talent investment program and a big investment in rural broadband, as well as new initiatives focused on marketing Virginia for business, preparing sites for development, and launching a world-class custom workforce solutions program, Virginia will be poised for additional improvements in our national rankings and more economic development wins,” said VEDP President and CEO Stephen Moret.

Virginia continues to offer one the best pro-business climates in the nation. In an effort to attract more businesses, Gov. Ralph Northam recently signed five bills that will continue to support economic development projects throughout Virginia.

This included House Bill 2003 – which extends the major business facility tax credit; House Bill 221 – reauthorizing the Virginia Investment Performance (VIP) Grant program and the Virginia Economic Development Inventive Grant (VEDIG) program; Senate Bill 1463 – allowing agencies to consider new telework jobs created when evaluating eligibility for a state grant; and House Bill 2182 and Senate Bill 1681 – providing that the state first notify the locality and the local economic development entity of surplus state property before it is offered for sale to the public.

Since January 2018, the Commonwealth has secured over $15 billion in capital investment and over 300 economic development projects. This has led to the creation of more than 48,000 jobs for the citizens of Virginia.

In addition to the new House Bills, Virginia and Greater Richmond have institutionalized many business incentives that benefit new and existing businesses, both in the short and long term. Incentives include financial assistance, infrastructure development grants, tax credits and exemptions, customized training and technical support programs. Recently, Chesterfield County announced an 86.6% tax rate reduction on data centers operating in the county and Henrico County approved exemptions on BPOL (Business, Professional and Occupational License) taxes up to $400,000.

These significant milestones signal a driving effort to make Virginia and the Richmond Region a competitive location for businesses looking to expand or relocate. Click here to learn more about Greater Richmond and how it can support your business.

Virginia to create new custom workforce program in 2019

With Virginia’s unemployment reaching record lows, the commonwealth seeks to invest in closing the skills gap. Over the last two years, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and Virginia Community College System (VCCS) leaders have collaborated to craft a shared vision for a custom workforce recruitment and training incentive program in Virginia, building on proven models elsewhere in the Southern U.S.

This new initiative will mark a change to the often-used Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP), which provides companies with more training choices after locating in the commonwealth. The current workforce program provides services and funding to companies creating new jobs or experiencing technological change to reduce the human resource development costs for new companies, expanding companies, and companies retraining their employees. Reimbursable funding for each net new full-time job created or full-time employee retrained is based on a customized budget determined by an assessment of the company’s recruiting and training activities.

Starting in Fall 2019, Virginia will sometimes offer the custom workforce incentive program in lieu of VJIP for prospects who voice a preference for a full-service option. For competitive projects, one of Virginia’s strategies to achieve this outcome is to offer the choice of:

  • A VJIP grant for those companies that want to execute their own workforce recruitment and training efforts, or
  • The new custom workforce recruitment and training incentive program

The customization, typically unavailable in competing states, will be just one of the distinctive features of Virginia’s approach. Bespoke employee recruitment, screening, training development, and training delivery services at no cost to the company will be offered in this new custom workforce incentive program, which is yet to be titled.

Recognizing that the most flexible workforce recruitment and training incentive programs typically serve as halo-like programs for their states, Virginia’s goal is to be ranked among the top 3-5 states in the country within three years – and No. 1 within five years.

Dennis Shea, Area Development; Jennifer Wakefield, GRP; Stephen Moret, VEDP; and Jane Ferrara, City of Richmond

More than 20 of the country’s top site location consultants were in Richmond this week to attend the Area Development Consultants Forum Outfront Workshop at The Jefferson Hotel.

The Greater Richmond Partnership partnered with the localities it represents (City of Richmond and the Counties of Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico) as well as the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to recruit the conference to the market. This marked the first time Area Development has hosted a conference in Virginia.

GRP Vice Chair and Chair of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors Leslie Haley had an opportunity to welcome the consultants to RVA.

Over the course of three days, the consultants met with economic developers from throughout Virginia and beyond in small, interactive sessions to discuss best practices to promote, market and sell their unique regional assets to companies looking to expand or relocate operations.

GRP coordinated a Bits and Bites food tour of the region sponsored by Barton Malow.

In addition, GRP and its local partners coordinated a “Bits and Bites” food and beverage tour of the region graciously sponsored by GRP investor Barton Malow. Stops on the tour included Capital One’s 1717 Innovation Center (home to Startup Virginia), James Beard semi-finalist Sub Rosa Bakery, Perch RVA and The Veil Brewing Company, all coordinated through Real Richmond Food Tours and in partnership with James River Transportation.

A special thanks to Richmond International Airport for displaying a welcome message on their digital billboards as visitors arrived in town.

Click here to checkout more pictures of the event.

Virginia students outperform across the nation

Virginia was recently ranked first for having the best public education system in the nation according to Cato Institute. Virginia school systems scored well across the board in academic performance, safety, class size, funding and instructor credentials. Virginia school accolades

The state also made headlines for its academics when fourth and eighth graders outdid their peers nationwide in mathematics and reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Across the state, 92 percent of public schools were accredited in 2018, up from 86 percent in 2017.

As the 6th best state for K-12 public education according to WalletHub in 2017, the Commonwealth has 103 public high schools ranked among U.S. News & World Report “Best High Schools in 2018” including 11 gold medal high schools.

Greater Richmond is no different than the rest of the state when it comes to the superb quality of its education system, offering some of the best ranked K-12 education at both public and private schools in the country. The Richmond region had two Henrico County, two Chesterfield County, one Hanover County and one Richmond City high schools make the list of Best High Schools in 2018 by U.S. News.

Among other accolades:

  • Henrico County’s Deep Run High School recently became a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. State Department along with seven other Virginia schools.
  • Richmond’s Open High School ranked 4th in the state on the U.S. News & World Report “Best High Schools in 2018” list.
  • Chesterfield graduates the 5th-most amount of students in the state per year
  • Hanover County Public Schools was the first division in the state to receive the U.S. Senate Productivity and Quality Award for Continuing Excellence.

Learn more about the Richmond Region’s education choices

Forum explores executive perceptions of Richmond Region

The Greater Richmond Partnership (GRP) recently commissioned a new perception study to discover insight from potential c-suite executives (both domestic and international) as well as site location consultants, who are involved in roughly half of all economic development projects.

Results of the third-party research were unveiled at the GRP’s Fall Investor Forum, which discussed the importance of regional perceptions and featured Richard Bradley, Worth Magazine Editor-in-Chief and Chief Content Officer, John Martin, Managing Partner and CEO of SIR, and Jennifer Wakefield, GRP SVP of Marketing.

The study found that while 85% of international executives were familiar with the Richmond, Va., name, they knew very little about the region. In fact, 40% of corporate respondents did not know enough about the region to provide feedback on the region’s strengths or industries.

For the executives that were familiar with the region, they felt that the area’s location to major markets, labor force, quality of life, higher education, and transportation infrastructure were strengths of the area.

Results of the study can be found here.

GRP Investor Forum, Nov. '18

The Greater Richmond Partnership (GRP) team is regularly on the road traveling to meet with executives looking to expand or relocate their company to the East Coast. However, marketing the Richmond Region can’t be done just through domestic and international travel. Sometimes the best way to discover the business advantages of Greater Richmond is experience it in person.

Over the last month, the GRP team has helped coordinate visits from influential site-selection consultants, media and UK parliament.

Last week the GRP partnered with the Greater Richmond Association of Commercial Real Estate, and Virginia Economic Development Partnership and our localities (City of Richmond and the counties of Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico) for a Consultant Mini-Mission. GRP Vice President of Domestic Investment Bethany Miller led our guests Didi Caldwell and Tess Fay of Global Location Strategies on a familiarization tour of the region’s assets. Gov. Ralph Northam and Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball helped welcome our guests to the region.

Richard Bradley, Worth Magazine Editor-in-Chief and Chief Content Officer, spent a couple days learning about the region’s business and philanthropic communities. He also participated in GRP’s Fall Investor Forum and provided insight into the external perceptions of the area and how visibility of the region’s strengths can be increased.

Keeping our international relationships strong, Olga Molnar, GRP’s Vice President of  Global Investment, coordinated a visit with Mark Garnier, UK Member of Parliament and Regional Envoy to the USA. The visit provided an opportunity for local business leaders with connections to the UK to discuss policies impacting their business, such as Brexit and international trade.

For the second year in a row, Virginia climbs Forbes magazine’s Best States for Business rankings.

The acclaimed list combines data from six categories including business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. Rising to number four overall (up from #5), Virginia ranked first in both Regulatory Environment and Quality of Life.

Virginia ranked high in labor supply – and its capital city is a big reason why. The Richmond metro area is a magnet for labor, drawing a workforce from more than 40 localities statewide. The region’s highly-educated and skilled workforce is supplemented by in-migration from other metros including Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Md., and Charlottesville, Va.

A combination of diverse industries with numerous educational institutions provide an ample workforce with positive work attitudes and a range of skills and experience.

Additionally, a high quality of life complements the low cost of living. According to the Center for Community and Economic Research’s latest ACCRA Cost of Living Index, the Richmond Region’s overall cost of living is more than five percent below the national average, 94.5/100. Housing costs are 11 percent lower in Greater Richmond than the national average.

Click here to view the entire list.