Facebook's proposed 416-acre data center campus in metro Atlanta could be the biggest economic development project in Georgia's history.
The Menlo Park, Calif.-based social network is expected to invest more than $40 billion over two decades and create about 500 jobs, a source said Tuesday. That dwarfs previous investment estimates.
Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) and the Georgia Department of Economic Development declined to comment on the proposed expansion.
Facebook, which will develop the campus in five phases, would initially invest $750 million and create up to 100 tech jobs. The overall investment would include land acquisition costs, facility build-outs, server equipment and backup power generators.
An entity named Morning Hornet LLC, said to represent Facebook, has a contract to acquire the 416 acres in Stanton Springs, a 1,620-acre master-planned development about 30 miles east of Atlanta. The site is near biotech Shire’s $1.2 billion manufacturing plant.
Stanton Springs Joint Development Authority officials, on Tuesday, voted to approve the land sale and a more than $40 billion bond resolution. The deal hinges on a Morgan County Superior Court judge validating the bond in the next two weeks.
Atlanta is also said to be on the radar of other West Coast Internet behemoths. Amazon and Microsoft are eyeing metro Atlanta for standalone data centers, Atlanta Business Chronicle has learned.
Rendering of Facebook's Planned Data Center near Omaha, Nebraska (Photo: Omaha World Herald)
"Metro Atlanta is a top five data center market — and one with the strongest growth momentum," said Tim Huffman, a senior vice president of Data Center Solutions at real estate services firm CBRE Inc.
“Atlanta has long been overdue for this type of hyper-scale data center development,” Huffman said. “Atlanta is going to become the most prominent data center market.”
With 1.37 billion daily active users, Facebook is the third-busiest site on the internet. Data centers, which can be as large as shopping malls, house tens of thousands of computer servers that share those status updates with your social network.
The Georgia data center could be related to Facebook’s plans to take on Apple and Amazon in the voice assistant wars. The social media behemoth could be developing its own version of Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. The “video chat device,” designed for use in the home, includes a large touchscreen, wide-angle camera, microphones, and speakers, according to Bloomberg. Facebook would need to scale its data center infrastructure to process the billions of queries its voice assistant would receive.
Data center demand is also fueled as social networks build robust messaging platforms. People are increasingly using Facebook Messenger instead of personal email. Facebook has data centers in Oregon, North Carolina and Iowa. Centers in Fort Worth, Texas; Los Lunas, New Mexico; and New Albany, Ohio are under construction. In October, Facebook said it will invest $1 billion in a data center near Richmond, Va.
Facebook has multiple Atlanta postings related to its Data Center Engineering & Construction Team. The postings seek a construction project engineer and two construction project managers. Responsibilities of the project manager jobs include supporting a regional construction manager who manages the construction of multi-phased data center projects.
Atlanta is among the fastest-growing markets in the country for data center space, in terms of build-out. Demand in the metro area is up about 20 percent year-over-year.