By Mark Williams
The former Ormet aluminum smelter site in Monroe County in southeast Ohio is in line to land a data center.
DP Facilities has announced plans for a data center that will create about 300 construction jobs and 40 to 50 permanent jobs in a county that had the highest unemployment rate in the state at 6.7% in May.
The center will be built next to a natural gas power plant being constructed on the site along the Ohio River in Hannibal that will supply the data center with inexpensive electricity, which is a major cost for data centers.
“Our partnership with DP Facilities is ideal both for this project and for the greater Hannibal community,” Bo Wholey, president of Long Ridge Energy Terminal, the developer of the site, said in a statement.
“Data centers represent the highest and best use of our available on-site resources including the electricity we will be producing furthered by intense data center demand that continues to grow. The low-cost, fixed-price electricity we are offering makes this partnership a natural fit.”
The project is in the early stages.
DP Facilities hasn’t said when it will break ground on the project or when it will become operational. The company hasn’t determined a cost estimate yet.
But it would mark another project to redevelop the site since Ormet closed in 2013. It once had 1,100 workers and was one of the most significant employers in the economically struggling region that covers parts of Ohio and West Virginia.
Fortress Transportation and Infrastructure Investors bought the site, now called Long Ridge Energy Terminal, for $30 million in 2017.
Fortress broke ground on the power plant in May with a goal of having it operational in November 2021.
“The Hannibal data center campus is consistent with our win-win business model that brings long-term, high-skill, well-paying jobs to communities that are transitioning their economies toward sustainable 21st century clean-powered business,” DP Facilities spokeswoman Kathleen Fowler said in a statement. “The site also may accommodate a solar power installation, although the natural gas plant fulfills DP Facilities’ sustainability objectives.”
DP Facilities’ flagship data center, Mineral Gap, is in Wise, Virginia, in the southwest part of the state. The company dates to the 1950s and its Mineral Gap operations provides services for state and federal government agencies, health care companies and other commercial customers.
In December, Hannibal received a $20 million federal grant to invest in a rail project at Long Ridge that is meant to give the area’s energy exports, including natural gas, better access to global markets.
The additional jobs from the data center will be a boost to the region, said Jason Hamman of the Hamman Consulting Group, which handles economic development in Monroe County.
“We’re optimistic it will move forward,” he said.