Economic and Business Development
Developing and investing in the local communities where we operate and provide service has become increasingly important to us and our communities. Our Economic and Business Development (E&BD) team works with local communities and state officials to attract and retain businesses and jobs.
In 2013, the E&BD team helped to bring nearly 25,000 jobs and more than $3.5 billion of investment to our communities, including announcements from such companies as BAE Systems, Inc. in Fort Wayne, Ind., Toyota in Buffalo, W.Va., Verizon and Macy’s in Tulsa, Okla., and Tenaris in Bay City, Texas. In 2013, AEP was named one of the top 10 utilities in economic development by Site Selection magazine for the second year in a row.
Site Selection focuses on corporate real estate strategy and economic development. The recipients were chosen based on an analysis of corporate end-user activity in 2012 in the company's territory. This includes website tools and data; input from site location decision-makers; innovative programs and incentives for business, including energy efficiency and renewable energy programs; and the utility's own job-creation infrastructure and facility investment trends.
Data Center Qualification Program
The E&BD team provides comprehensive assistance such as property searches and screening; custom research on demographics, work force, incentives and geographic information system (GIS) mapping; electric service plan and rate design; site visits; design, build and maintenance services for electrical facilities; local economic development training; and introductions to state, regional and local government officials and business leaders.
AEP provides economic development training and assistance to the communities we serve to collaboratively improve our success rate at recruiting and retaining business and industry. In 2013, AEP hosted 10 educational forums across our service territory attended by more than 400 community partners, including local, regional and state economic developers and elected officials.
AEP continues to focus on building a portfolio of job- and development-ready sites in our service territory to meet the needs of expanding companies. This gives us an edge when we are marketing to prospective customers. One industry we focus on for site development is the data center industry because of its strong potential for growth. Globally, according to research by Gartner, big data demand and data storage will exceed availability by 2015. AEP’s 11-state territory includes locations that have in place those factors that are critical to data center operations, such as access to strong fiber networks and reduced risk of natural disasters and other hazards.
To capitalize on this market opportunity, AEP commissioned Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Co. (BLS), a location economics and site selection firm, to qualify nine locations in seven states as ready for data center development. The qualification process includes an assessment of market conditions, selection of potential sites, and a detailed analysis at the site level of factors that are most critical to the operation of data centers. The central Ohio region, in particular, has seen several recent data center investments, including project announcements from Compass Datacenters, Discover Financial Services, TJX Corporation and IBM.