North Carolina’s newest economic addition

Try to imagine handling more than 500 million customers’ basic information, such as their age and location. Now, add in each customer’s likes, political affiliation and all 168 photos of their cat, Oliver. Not the typical data need, right? The company with this need – Facebook – isn’t the typical data customer either, which is why they decided to build a new, $450 million dollar data center in North Carolina.

A few excerpts from datacenterknowledge.com’s coverage of the announcement:

The data center near Forest City in Rutherford County will be Facebook’s second company-built data center, following on the facility now being completed in Prineville, Oregon.

The 300,000 square foot data center is expected to create more than 250 construction and mechanical jobs during its 18-month building phase. When construction is completed, the data center will employ around 35-45 full-time and contract workers.

“We knew we wanted an East coast data center, and we look at sites all up and down the Eastern seaboard,” said Facebook spokesperson Kathleen Loughlin. “As the search progressed, we really honed in on North Carolina in general and Rutherford County in particular.”

 “We are proud that Facebook chose to make North Carolina a ‘friend’,‟ said North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue. “The feeling is certainly mutual. You can’t pick up a newspaper, read a magazine or flip on the television without hearing more great news about our state. The investment and jobs at the data center will be a boon to that region of the state, and will help confirm North Carolina’s distinction as a global business destination.”

The new Facebook data center will be designed to qualify for Gold-level certification under the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program, a voluntary rating system for energy efficient buildings overseen by the US Green Building Council. In addition, Facebook says it will employ “innovative cooling and power management technologies to make the facility one of the most energy efficient data centers in the United States.”

This is another great example of how data-centric projects can benefit local economies. It’s sometimes hard to imagine that the content on your office’s servers acts as a commodity, but it’s valuable revenue.

What would a data center like this look like in our state? Would we build it from scratch, or use existing buildings? Leave your ideas in the comments below.

@ddbrown

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