Prepare For the Data Center Massacre


Here in Guilford County, NC, we're pretty excited about the announcement of a pair of new American Express data centers, to be built along the I-40/85 corridor at Greensboro's eastern fringe.

The huge construction projects and eventual tax receipts are welcome in this economy, all the more so in a region that has seen its traditional industries (textiles, furniture, and tobacco) suffer a generation-long swoon from which they will not recover.

And the possibility that more data-center operators (and ancillary businesses) will recognize the virtues of the Carolina Piedmont has tails wagging among the econ-dev crowd.

But as I've tried to tell my neighbors for years, data centers themselves don't generate a lot of jobs. And the latest news from HP -- automated data centers play a big role in its headcount reductions -- only reinforce that message.

Why do you care about what's happening in my hometown?

Because you can bet your CFO is going to read the HP clips with interest. Cost pressures are not going away, and IT workers aren't cheap. Are you ready with a data center strategy, or will you wait for the bean-counters to come to you? Do you have a plan for redeploying talent, or will you meekly accept any cuts thrust upon you?