Georgia is expected to land a major economic development project involving one of the world’s most influential technology companies.
Menlo Park, Calif.-based Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) would develop a more than 400-acre data center campus in Newton County. Facebook could invest about $20 billion over two decades in the project and will initially create about 100 tech jobs, a source said.
An entity named Morning Hornet LLC filed for the project, which be located in Stanton Springs, a 1,620-acre master-planned development about 30 miles east of Atlanta. The Facebook data center will be near biotech Shire’s $1.2 billion manufacturing plant.
Stanton Springs Joint Development Authority officials, on Wednesday evening, are expected to vote on bond issuance related to the project. The deal hinges on a judge validating the bonds.
Emails to Facebook seeking comment were not returned Monday evening.
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, expected to be developed over five phases, 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.
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.
Last year, Facebook posted a job listing (with an Atlanta location) for a construction project manager to join its Data Center Engineering & Construction team. Responsibilities include supporting a regional construction manager who manages the construction of multi-phased data center projects. The job would be based in the Southeast, the listing noted.
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.
The proposed Facebook project comes as Georgia competes for Amazon.com Inc.’s (Nasdaq: AMZN) $5 billion second headquarters. That project, for which Atlanta is considered a favorite, would create up to 50,000 jobs over the next several years.
Georgia is said to have offered more than $ 1 billion in incentives and infrastructure improvements and presented nearly 10 intown and suburban Atlanta sites for Amazon’s HQ2. Downtown Atlanta’s "Gulch" is believed to be the city’s primary site.
Meanwhile. Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) on Jan. 17 announced plans for a second campus, which would initially house tech support workers. With its low cost, high-skilled tech talent Atlanta could aggressively compete for that project, too.
Demand is growing rapidly in the Atlanta area as traditional data center hubs, such as Northern Virginia, become overcrowded. Businesses also want to put their data center operations closer to customers and talent — and the Southeast is witnessing a population boom.
Inexpensive power and real estate are also major drivers for the data center industry in Metro Atlanta. Demand is also fueled as Fortune 500 companies move IT operations from the Northeast and California to the Southeast (think State Farm, Anthem Inc. (NYSE: ANTM), General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), etc..) in search of lower operating costs.
In November Dallas-based Cyrus One announced plans to develop a $206 million data center in Douglasville, Ga.
In May, Las Vegas-based data center operator Switch is expected to enter Atlanta with plans for a $2.5 billion, more than 1 million-square-foot data center campus.
In 2015, Google announced a more than 800,000-square-foot expansion of its data center in Lithia Springs, Ga., west of Atlanta.
QTS, meanwhile, is building out its nearly 1 million-square-foot data center near downtown Atlanta, while planning for expansion in Gwinnett.