STF Mag Feature: 6 Questions with Buddy Rizer

STF Magazine Feature: 6 Questions with Buddy Rizer, Executive Director for Economic Development in Loudoun County, Virginia.November 26, 2021

Q: What is Loudoun County Economic Development’s mission?

A: Our mission statement is to provide excellent customer-focused economic development services to attract, grow and retain targeted businesses, and to promote entrepreneurism, in order to diversify and strengthen Loudoun’s economy.

How do we translate these high-level aspirations into reality? It really starts with putting people first. Even in the rather technical world of fiber and subsea telecom, there are people at either ends of the line that are communicating at the speed of life. There are thousands of jobs that are supported by those cables, including many in Loudoun County, a land-locked region 100+ miles from the coast.

Since 2017, Loudoun County, home to Ashburn and Data Center Alley, has been the world’s foremost leader in data center capacity and development. Data centers provide nearly 40% of the county’s tax base, and the people that work in and around data centers number in the tens of thousands. Looking ahead, we see the data economy extending beyond the secure walls of data centers, and being a major attraction for businesses in the data analytics, machine learning, mixed reality, biohealth and cybersecurity industries.

Q: How does Loudoun County Economic Development participate in the submarine cable market?

A: Data that supports critical infrastructure and operations around the world is hosted on servers in Loudoun County and is accessible in less than the blink of an eye. This type of global service is only possible in the last few years, as subsea cables have been laid between Virginia Beach and Europe, Africa, South America, and other East Coast locations. Fiber that used to run 300 miles overland to New Jersey now runs a fraction of that to the coast before making its Transatlantic journey.

Thanks to the extensive fiber connectivity through Virginia Beach, Loudoun remains an ideal business location, along with Henrico County and elsewhere in Virginia that were previously known for coal and tobacco production. Because of the subsea connectivity, those locations are not just viable, but also desirable for cloud investment. We salute the subsea visionaries that made this happen.

Looking ahead, Loudoun will continue to work with our data center community in pursuit of shared workforce development goals, renewable energy, educational inclusivity and digital equity. Data centers have the ability to transform a community through investment, but it all comes back to connectivity. As we like to say, connection makes this all #LoudounPossible.

Q: Is Loudoun County Economic Development currently involved with any new submarine cable projects?

A: That’s classified ?

Q: What makes Loudoun County Economic Development unique in the submarine system market?

A: Located just outside of Washington, D.C., Loudoun County has a long history of serving as a connection point for the federal government. What makes Loudoun unique in the subsea cable business is our relative distance from the sea, as well as our growth without that direct access to  ransatlantic fiber. As many will remember TAT-8 was the first transatlantic fiber line in 1988, a joint venture among AT&T, Télécom, and British Telecom. It connected points in France and England to Tuckerton, N.J., and overland fiber then connected Ashburn to the world. That connectivity was greatly enhanced by the dot com giants like AOL, UUNet, MCI, Worldcom and more, laying the infrastructure for what would later become Data Center Alley.

It wasn’t until 2018 that Virginia first got direct connectivity to the world, first to Brazil with BRUSA, then Spain with MAREA, Denmark via Midgardsormen in 2019, and France through Dunant in 2021. Each of these major subsea projects through Virginia Beach serves to further connect Loudoun County to the world’s largest tech hubs, increasing speed, redundancy and resilience.

To continue reading the rest of this article, please read it in Issue 121 of the SubTel Forum Magazine on page 14 or on our archive site here.