$1 billion Facebook data center coming to Henrico

Published: Oct. 4, 2017 at 9:06 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2017 at 5:28 PM EDT
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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Facebook officially updates its status: the social media giant is coming to Eastern Henrico.  Facebook confirming plans to build a $1 billion data center at White Oak Technology Park in Sandston.

Leaders say this building project is expected to bring thousands of construction jobs. Once it's built, leaders say there will be more than 100 full-time jobs.  While some people would hope for more positions, leaders say having Facebook in the Commonwealth brings the promise of even more opportunities.

"I am proud to announce that the great company of Facebook will invest $1 billion dollars here in the Commonwealth of Virginia," Governor Terry McAuliffe announced at the Capitol Thursday morning.

The 975,000 square foot facility will be located at White Oak Technology Park in Sandston.

So what attracted the social media giant to the Commonwealth?  A lower tax rate helped.  Henrico leaders reduced it from $3.50 to $.40 cents this year.

There is also the promise of renewable energy.

Facebook says these buildings will be one of the most advanced data centers in the world, and they say they're working with Dominion to make sure 100 percent of the energy used at this site is renewable.

"We're going to use outdoor air to cool the servers instead of energy-intensive air conditioners," says Rachel Peterson with Facebook's Data Center and Strategy Development team.  "And like many of other data centers, as the governor mentioned, it will be powered by 100 percent clean and renewable energy, and this is going to protect the environment."

Governor McAuliffe says the Commonwealth is working with Dominion Energy to invest $250 million on " solar activities in the Commonwealth."

Henrico also had to prove it had the infrastructure and workforce to help build and sustain the data center.  What does it mean for people living in Henrico?

"You have a corporate entity that is going to be part of the community, that is going to be offsetting a significant amount of residential taxes," says Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas. "So as a resident, this is a home run."

Henrico leaders say there is great potential for Facebook to get involved in the community and schools.

"Whether it's volunteers at schools or giving money to the programs, there's going to be some investment," says Henrico School board supervisor for Varina Reverend Tyrone Nelson.

Leaders are hoping associating Facebook with Virginia goes viral by attracting other big names like Amazon.

"Amazon does all their business on the internet so having a secure, up to date, state of the art technological fiber is a huge advantage that Virginia has over other states," said Governor McAuliffe.

The data center is set to be complete in 2019.

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