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Business Update: Facebook announces $750 million Fort Worth data center

Update: Facebook announces $750 million Fort Worth data center

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Months of speculation ended Tuesday when Gov. Greg Abbott joined with Fort Worth area leaders to announce a $750 million Facebook data center project for north Fort Worth.

Social media giant Facebook will build up to three 250,000-square-foot data centers in the AllianceTexas development in north Fort Worth.

The announcement was made by Abbott; Ross Perot, Jr., chairman of Hillwood Development; city of Fort Worth and Tarrant County representatives and Facebook executives at a formal ground-breaking ceremony on the new site, located on the northeast corner of Park Vista Boulevard and State Highway 170.

Grading of the 110-acre property is already underway and construction of the first phase is expected to be completed in June 2016. The $750 million project, with the potential to surpass $1 billion in capital investment upon completion of the second phase, will generate up to 100 jobs, including full-time employees, contractors and vendors. The new buildings are expected to be the world’s most environmentally friendly data centers based on energy usage, the use of continuously recycled water and other green building attributes and credits required for LEED certification, according to a press release.

“The future economic growth opportunities related to data centers and data warehouses are staggering,” said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. “There are so many factors that drive business location decisions for data center companies – availability of land, an ample talent pool to recruit and retain workers, high quality of life and premium location – and Fort Worth offers all of these and more. As a result, we are in an enviable position to attract global leaders like Facebook, and we are excited to welcome them to our community.”

Fort Worth and Facebook began discussions following a lead on the data center project from former Gov. Rick Perry’s office in mid-2014. Officials said Facebook researched more than 200 communities in seeking a location for its newest and largest data center. Extensive negotiations, including an incentive package approved by the Fort Worth City Council and Tarrant County in May 2015, continued for nearly one year.

“Collaboration among state, county and local leaders is a prerequisite for successfully courting a worldwide leader like Facebook to our region,” said Tarrant County Judge B. Glen Whitley. “The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, partners like Workforce Solutions, the Northwest ISD, the economic development departments at the city of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, and dozens of elected officials and their staffs contributed to this collective win.”

An incentive agreement approved by the City Council in May would see Facebook receive $146.7 million in rebates in real and business personal property taxes spanning 20 years.

David Berzina, executive vice president of economic development for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, pointed to several factors influencing Facebook’s decision to build in Fort Worth.

“Our state’s tax structure and policy, including legislative action in 2013 that eliminated undue charges on data centers related to equipment sales tax, are key attractors for companies like Facebook,” said Berzina. “You combine Texas’ ‘open for business’ environment with Fort Worth’s unparalleled airport connectivity, a reliable electric grid with dual electric service to the site, and our established infrastructure, and we have competitive advantages that are second to none.”

Those plans are underway, with DPR Construction and Fortis Construction – in a joint venture as DPR Fortis Mission Critical – at work on constructing facilities not only capable of supporting the nearly 1.5 billion Facebook users and their estimated 45 billion daily messages, but also running solely on wind power.

That goal is expected to be achieved thanks to a partnership with Citigroup and Alterra Energy calling for a 202-megawatt wind farm on 17,000 acres northwest of Tarrant County. Facebook will purchase power from the wind farm, said Tom Furlong, Facebook’s vice president of infrastructure.

“The data center we are building here in Fort Worth is going to be one of the most efficient yet,” said Furlong, referring to the company’s other such facilities in Iowa, North Carolina, Oregon and Sweden.

The new location even has its own Facebook page:

www.facebook.com/FortWorthDataCenter

– additional reporting by Robert Francis, rfrancis@bizpress.net 

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