And it’s those benefits, more than being in an Opportunity Zone per se, that could help Hannibal, said Steve DelBianco, president of NetChoice, a Washington, DC-based tech industry trade association.
“Hannibal’s biggest asset is that it’s in the state of Ohio, where economic development can give 50-year sales tax exemption certificates for qualified data centers,” he said. “To compete for enterprise data centers, it will need to check the other boxes, too,” including adequate and affordable plots of land, an educated labor force and cheap and reliable electricity. In particular, it will need to supply renewable energy because companies such as Facebook and Google often require new renewable energy sources for data center siting, he said.
Hannibal’s biggest competition is not necessarily Northern Virginia, but other parts of Ohio itself, DelBianco said, noting that both Facebook and Google are siting new data centers in New Albany,outside Columbus. “It’s relatively flat land, abundant water, cheap land and a highly educated workforce,” he said. “Hannibal should focus more on being attractive to enterprise data centers and build upon its inherent advantage of being in a state that gets it.”