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Illinois College Town Adds $800 Million Facebook Data Center

Facebook plans to build an $800 million data center in DeKalb, Ill., which is home to Northern Illinois University, and it will rely solely on renewable energy while creating about 100 jobs.

by Abdel Jimenez, Chicago Tribune / June 30, 2020
Shutterstock/Anikei

(TNS) — Facebook plans to build an $800 million data center in DeKalb that will rely solely on renewable energy and create about 100 jobs.

The data center, a 505-acre project on the southeast corner of the intersection of Gurler and Peace roads, also will use 80% less water than other data centers, the social media giant said.

The Facebook-owned land can accommodate five buildings, and two will be completed by 2022. “As time progresses, we will decide if it makes sense for us to continue to expand,” said Rachel Peterson, vice president of data center strategy for Facebook.

It will be Facebook’s first data center in Illinois. The company has 15 others globally. The 100 employees will include technicians, engineers, construction management, facilities management, logistic professionals and security personnel, Facebook said.

“It’s a boon to our community, and once online, this data center will be part of a network that connects people all over the world,” DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith said in a news release.

Facebook chose DeKalb, in Chicago’s western suburbs, because of its access to renewable energy, talent pool and strong community partners, Peterson said.

Facebook pledged in 2018 to powering its facilities with 100% renewable energy by the end of 2020. Specifics on what kind of renewable energy will be used in DeKalb are under development, Peterson said.

In 2019, Illinois lawmakers approved a data center tax incentive to attract technology companies and other firms to build their data storage facilities in the state. Among other requirements, companies must invest at least $250 million in a facility and hire at least 20 full-time employees over five years to qualify for the program.

Facebook has not applied for the state’s incentive program, Peterson said.

The Chicago area ranked third last year in the U.S. for data center capacity, according to a report paid for by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Foundation and several data center owners and operators.

©2020 the Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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