TexAmericas Center (TAC) is pleased to recognize the work and contributions of Texas A&M College Station students during a semester-long partnership that enabled them to devise plans to develop hundreds of acres of land and attract businesses to the Texarkana region.
Since 2020, TexAmericas Center has partnered with students in the Master of Land and Property Development (MLPD) Program within the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University to develop a concept plan for its properties.
TexAmericas Center owns and operates 12,000 development-ready acres of land and in 2021 identified 400 acres on its West Campus as property that could ideally accommodate a data center park with green energy amenities.
Texas A&M students in the MLPD program were challenged to develop a plan – and a vision – that brings that piece of property to realization. Over the course of the semester, student groups incorporated best business practices with financial considerations to develop plans for construction, land transformation, business and jobs attraction, as well as provide due diligence and recommendations for economic and community development.
“A real-world project like this gives students valuable experience. It teaches them about networking, hard work, and precision. It also gives them an opportunity to see if they would like to enter this type of workforce,” said Jeff Whitten, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer at TexAmericas Center. “On the flip side, TexAmericas Center gets to benefit from their innovation and forward-thinking. We can’t think of a better win-win situation.”
To do the job well, students had to exercise their networks to give the best product back to TexAmericas Center and achieve the best grade. Reaching out to TexAmericas Center staff and its vendors was step one to tackling the project.
“The real-world experience and relationships developed in this project helps students expand their knowledge, skills and abilities while also furthering their careers,” said Eric Voyles, Executive Vice President and Chief Economic Development Officer at TexAmericas Center.
At the end of the semester, TexAmericas Center employees traveled to College Station to attend the student presentations, evaluate the plans and provide valuable feedback and coaching to students.
“This project allowed the students in the Capstone Course to take the knowledge they have acquired throughout the MLPD program, as well as their individual job experiences, and apply it to a tough, real-world situation,” said Dan Leverett, Professor of Practice at Texas A&M University, and the professor who taught and coached the team of students. “The teamwork, research, financial analysis, networking, and presentation skills are invaluable to the toolkit that these students take to the job market.”
The student presentations focused on TexAmericas Center’s West Campus for the placement of an initial 200,000 square feet of data center space. Students selected the West Campus location because of low-cost electricity and a reliable grid, the presence of excellent fiber connection to long-haul fiber through multiple networks in the region, and incentives that are highly applicable to data center operations. In efforts to promote the area as an eco-friendly Green Park, the student groups encouraged the adoption of provisions to protect and enhance wetlands located adjacent to the site. They also cited the adjacent, underdevelopment 1,100 Engie-NA solar farm as being highly complementary to data center site selection needs.
“This is a project that makes students stand out in a crowded job market,” Whitten said. “We are grateful for Texas A&M and the incredible work done by these students. We look forward to them entering the work force with experience and skills to spur economic development and innovation throughout the industry.”