How Crypto Mining And Data Centers Are Bringing Business Back To Rural America

News, Opinion | February 17, 2020 By:

While the day-to-day prices of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies may be up and down, overall interest and investment in the industry is only headed in one direction – full steam ahead.

This interest has translated into the critical need for data centers – high-powered facilities that allow miners and investors to host their operations and to tap into the growing potential of blockchain and all that it can mean for our future. 

State-of-the art data centers, designed specifically for the needs of high-performance computing, are being developed throughout the U.S. to meet this growing need — and they are having a tremendous financial and cultural impact on the rural communities around them.

Why Rural America?

The U.S. has become an ideal location for Tier 0 data centers for a few key reasons. Understanding that mining operations expend an incredible amount of energy, access to and the cost of power is critical. With some of the world’s most competitive energy rates, in addition to having access to a diverse mix of renewable energy and stranded power, rural America has become the land of opportunity. 

This type of data center facility can often be placed close to the energy source, putting underutilized power to work. The U.S. also offers a more stable economic environment, stronger infrastructure, and added reliability as an industry that is held to a higher standard than some international alternatives.

Constructing data centers in these strategic locations allows investors to host their operations with confidence while minimizing energy costs, maximizing productivity, and generating revenue.

The Centers Themselves

Data centers take various shapes and forms but primarily materialize as entirely new sites or via the repurposing of old, out-of-commission plants, factories, warehouses, and other industrial settings across the country.  For example, sites exist in such locations as an old World War II hangar, and in a former Gateway computer facility. Further, the increased demand for computing power has driven interest and the need for modular data centers.

These high-powered, high-performance facilities and many others from coast to coast are creating jobs, revenue, and infrastructure within the communities they serve.

The Workforce Impact

The construction phase and ongoing operation of data centers create many jobs and supporting wages in rural communities, the majority of which are tapped directly from the local economy. Workers in land surveying, construction, electrical work, site maintenance, IT, and many more in-demand fields all stand to benefit from these facilities in both the short and long term.

The Revenue Impact

Data centers also drive annual revenue for local communities and are especially appealing to power companies given the reliable and consistent year-round usage. As this impact becomes more evident, local governments are becoming more and more interested in pursuing such a facility for their own town and surrounding area.

A large-scale example of this impact can be drawn from Facebook, which has constructed several data centers in rural locations throughout the country since 2010. Between 2010 and 2016, the tech giant’s data centers contributed $5.8 billion in U.S. GDP to go along with 60,000 jobs.

While these facilities are obviously right near the top in terms of scale and impact, these numbers speak to the difference data centers are making on both a national and a local level. When you consider these numbers from the first half of last decade and the fact that data centers, blockchain, and mining are all still on the rise, there is an incalculable opportunity at play here.

The Non-Financial Impact

Apart from the clear impact data centers are having on the economies and workforces of rural areas, their very presence also works to improve local infrastructure by improving education, roads, water systems, renewable energy, and more. Data centers are contributing to and supporting local communities by improving life in the areas directly surrounding their walls.

Blockchain is Here to Stay – and so are Data Centers

These forms of technology are not going away. With each passing minute, blockchain and high-performance computing applications like machine learning, image rendering, and artificial intelligence become more widely applied to business and to everyday life, emerging in industries from finance and government to medicine and the law.

As this trend and the growing tokenization of digital assets continues, so will the demand for data centers designed with computing power in mind. The positive impact these facilities can have on local economies makes the opportunity even more exciting.