Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Facebook’s new Fort Worth data center will be powered by wind and bring millions to local economy

Facebook’s new Fort Worth data center won’t create a lot of jobs.  
Only about 40 people will work at the new high-tech complex when it opens in 18 months.
But the social media giant’s project in North Tarrant County will add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy over time, business leaders and government officials say.
Facebook began construction Tuesday on the first phase of the $1 billion data center on in the AllianceTexas development near Alliance Airport.
Access to ample electric power, a good labor force and economic incentives were all part of Facebook’s decision to select the 110-acre building site on State Highway 170, vice president Tom Furlong said.
“Facebook’s goal is unprecedented,” Furlong said. “Our mission is to connect the world.
“Just dealing with this kind of scale is a huge technical challenge.”
Providing the data processing and storage power to handle the company’s web traffic requires more data centers. The Fort Worth facility will be Facebook’s fourth such operation in the U.S.
“Nearly one and a half billion people are already connected on Facebook,” he said. “On a daily basis, there are 2 billion photos posted. People view 4 billion videos.
“We need to build one of the most flexible and efficient infrastructures possible.”
Furlong said the company started building its own data centers five years ago.
“The data center we are building here in Fort Worth is going to be one of our most efficient yet,” he said.
To help power the project with renewable energy, Facebook is part of a team that will build a wind generator farm near Wichita Falls. The wind farm will generate 200 megawatts of electricity.
Landing the huge high-tech complex was touted as a win for Texas and Tarrant County.
“Data centers are the new steel factories,” said developer Ross Perot Jr., whose Hillwood Properties worked with Facebook to select the site in its AllianceTexas development. “They are the engine rooms of the high-tech economy.”
Perot said he didn’t know it was Facebook when the project was first presented.
“They called the Alliance team and we started working with an unknown company,” he said. “They said we are working on a $1billion deal and that got our attention.”
Perot said the project will add to Fort Worth and Tarrant County’s tax base.
“This brings a lot of taxes with very few jobs but very few expenses,” he said. “That’s why cities like data centers, because it’s very profitable.”
Fort Worth and Tarrant County governments provided more than $100 million in economic incentives to land the Facebook deal.
Rumors about the project have circulated for months.
“This is the worse kept secret that ever was – there’s been guessing for months” said Fort Worth major Betsy Price. “Facebook is such an exciting thing that it’s hard to keep it a secret.”
Price said North Texas is now the third largest data center location in the U.S.   
“The economic impact that Facebook brings is amazing,” she said.
She said the Facebook datacenters in Oregon and North Carolina have generated more than $600 million million in regional economic impact.
Texas governor Greg Abbott said that Texas is the country’s largest exporter of technology in the last couple of years.
“Today Texas is also showing we can be an importer of technology, by importing this great technology project by Facebook,” Abbott said. “This is a magnet that shows high tech companies are welcome to the state of Texas.
“We have the gift of lower taxes for you and your business going forward.”
He said the ability to build the wind generator farm was important in Facebook’s location decision.   
Steve Brown/ Dallas Morning News