For the past month, the Matoaca MegaSite mania has dominated the news with no sign of slowing down. After three tense information sessions, county officials seem unwavering in their pursuit of forging ahead with constructing the site despite growing opposition and backlash from citizens.
In complete contrast to the MegaSite controversy is the recent news that a Facebook data center will be headed to eastern Henrico County. Announced by Gov.Terry McAuliffe last week, the social media site will be investing $1 billion into a data center in the White Oak Technology Park.
“I am proud to welcome Facebook to Henrico County, and we look forward to a strong partnership. When an industry giant like Facebook selects Virginia for a major operation, it’s proof that our efforts to build an open and welcoming economy that works for everyone are paying off,” Governor McAuliffe said. “For many years, Virginia has served as a key hub for global Internet traffic, emerging as one of the most active data center markets in the world. Working with companies like Facebook and many others, we are advancing Virginia’s position as a global leader in the technology economy and a world-class home to innovative companies of every size.”
The county has been working on this project for three years and the data center will provide thousands of construction jobs and 100 full-time operational jobs.
The data center will be complete in 2019, and in addition to community leaders, local residents are excited about it.
Though both sites promise jobs and tax breaks to their respective areas, the response to the Mataoca MegaSite has been largely negative, with some wondering if it is just being rushed in response to the Facebook data center. There were also comments in regarding to the actual 100 jobs at the data center versus the speculated 5,000 at the Megasite.
With all the opposition, it would be safe to say that one would be hard-pressed to find people that are in favor of the Megasite, but they do exist. George L. Fickett Jr., a retired Chesterfield County employee, spoke in defense of the county.
“From experience, I know homes bring in less tax dollars than industrial or commercial properties and put a drain on county [taxes]. The county has less of these and need to even the balance,” Fickett said. “Changing from residential to industrial was a good change. Homes bring more cost to the county. Sixty-five hundred homes on this property would mean more school children to the already overcrowded school system that the citizens of Chesterfield are already complaining about!”
According to another resident, who chose to remain anonymous, the Megasite is progress even though she would be losing her home.
“I’m okay with the mega industrial center. It is progress,” the resident said. “I’m not pleased to lose my house, but it is what it is. No one wants their lives disturbed, I understand this. All that is being said is that negative [things] could happen but … good things can happen also.”