Social media giant Facebook likes Alabama’s high tech capital Huntsville, tapping it for a new $750 million data center to host videos, photos and news.
Local officials had approved a deal a few weeks earlier with a new company, Starbelt LLC, saying it was operating on behalf of a well known corporation. That deal allowed Starbelt to purchase 340 acres in North Huntsville Industrial Park for $8.5 million.
The Facebook unveiling came in mid June at an announcement with officials from Facebook joining Gov. Kay Ivey, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber and other state and local officials.
Facebook plans to break ground for the 970, 000-square-foot facility this year and bring it online in 2020. Plans call for 100 employees with an $80, 000 average annual salary.
Facebook’s announcement says the data center will not only have a major impact online, but also on the community. “These data centers are real economic engines — and beyond just the four corners of the site. We are proud to say a recent study found that for every $1 million in operating expenses at our data centers, there are 13 jobs in the economy. And for every $1 million in capital expenditures, there are more than 14 jobs supported in the economy.”
Calling Huntsville “one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the country, ” Facebook Site Selection Director Matt VanderZanden says the firm knew it would be a great location.
Facebook plans to power the center with renewable energy sources and is partnering with TVA to reach that goal.
Speaking at the announcement, Gov. Kay Ivey said, “Every day, millions of people around the world use Facebook’s products, and this new Alabama data center will soon play a role in keeping the company’s popular platforms running flawlessly.”
Facebook boasts some 2 billion users and includes popular platforms Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus in addition to Facebook itself.