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Msg  16109 of 16167  at  11/30/2023 12:48:26 PM  by


Meta turns on the power for $1B DeKalb data center

Meta turns on the power for $1B DeKalb data center
; Chicago, Ill.
Three years after breaking ground Meta turned on its massive $1 billion DeKalb data center Wednesday, firing up banks of servers and network equipment to power everything from Facebook and Instagram posts to the uncharted virtual realm of the metaverse.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker was among the politicos on hand to celebrate its opening and flip a ceremonial switch as the first phase of the five-building, 2.3 million-square-foot complex came online, boosting both the local economy and the capacity for content-sharing on social media.

The DeKalb data center is Meta's 12th facility in the U.S. and 15th worldwide, connecting billions of social media users. Springing up on 505 acres of former farmland, the sprawling data center has generated more than 1,200 construction jobs, the promise of more than 200 full-time jobs, capital investment and academic partnerships with nearby Northern Illinois University.

"Data centers are effectively the engine that enables everything that Meta does," Brad Davis, director of data center community and economic development at Meta, said after the event. "At its core, it's an economic engine for the community."

Data centers are booming in the post-pandemic digital age, supplanting everything from corporate campuses to farmland as the need for computing power continues to ramp up. The large warehouse facilities house racks of computer systems, including servers, storage and network equipment, providing the infrastructure for social media, cloud services and artificial intelligence, among other applications.

The facilities require massive amounts of electricity but relatively few people to operate.

Chicago is tied with Dallas as the third-largest data center market in the U.S. at about 4.8 million square feet, according to a report by JLL. Northern Virginia is by far the largest data center market at 47.7 million square feet, followed by Northern California at nearly 7.2 million square feet.

In addition to Meta's DeKalb site, another megaproject is in the works at the 273-acre former Sears corporate campus in Hoffman Estates, which was purchased in September by Dallas-based Compass Datacenters.

"Illinois has quickly become a hub of data center expansion, thanks to a law that we enacted back in 2019 to create new incentives to attract data centers here to Illinois," Pritzker said at Wednesday's event.

"We weren't positioned properly then; we are now."

In 2019 Illinois created the Data Center Investment Program, offering an exemption from state and local sales and use taxes for companies that invest at least $250 million and create 20 new operational jobs in a data center. The program also requires the data center to be carbon-neutral.

Pritzker touted the DeKalb facility as the "most energy-efficient data center in the entire world."

Meta partnered with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to develop a more sustainable concrete mix for construction of the data center. The social media giant has also invested in two new wind-energy projects in Morgan and DeWitt counties, looking to support the DeKalb data center's goal of running on 100% renewable energy, Davis said.

DeKalb Mayor Cohen Barnes said Meta's decision to locate a data center in the college town about 60 miles west of Chicago has benefited the community in myriad ways, not the least of which is tax revenue.

"It's improving the city of DeKalb so we can hire more firefighters, more policemen," Barnes said. "That is a significant impact."

For the millions of social media users in Chicago and across northern Illinois, the data center may have an added benefit.

While the facility will serve as a worldwide data hub, more proximate users of Meta apps should see a boost in performance with DeKalb online, Davis said.

"I think the experience that you'll have on any of our apps and services will certainly be faster," Davis said. "We do operate a global portfolio, and there is some degree of optimizing depending on time of day and capacity needs of various regions, so I can't guarantee that it's going to be exclusively at that data center. But it'll certainly be a better experience."

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