Facebook will build a new state-of-the-art data center on a 194-acre site in Altoona, Gov. Branstad's office announced today. 
 
Facebook will invest a minimum of $299.5 million in the project, but the project could grow to be a $1.5 billion investment.
 
"Today's announcement further solidifies Iowa's position as a destination for tech companies - from major data center operations like Facebook's to the innovative start-ups we continue to see popping up around our state," Gov. Branstad said in a release. "Our productive workforce and our overall cost of doing business help us to win great projects like this."
 
Jeff Mark said the Altoona city council this morning approved the necessary application for a state high-quality jobs economic development grant and for a state tax abatement on property tax.

However, if the company does not live up to the state's economic developments, Altoona would pick up the abatement in terms of tax-increment financing.

Mark said the key elements to picking Altoona were: MidAmerican's nearby substation, fiber optic cables and water and electric rates that were significantly less than other possible locations.

"Altoona just happens to be rich in all of those things," he said.

Mark said the company officials also were very concerned about weather and a big draw was the fact that a tornado has never touched down in Altoona he said.

The plan is for a three-phase buildout. The first-phase of 476,000 square feet would include some office space  but would primarily be a bunker housing computer servers.

The council had approved a special discounted water rate for businesses that use more than 9 million gallon a month. After 9 million gallons, the business  would get a $3 rebate per thousand gallons, Mark said.

Hubbell Realty Co. has owned the land, which originally was slated for residential development, since 2005.

Construction also is expected to begin this spring on a $12.5 million data center that will be operated by Waterloo-based Enseva. The company is expected to build multiple 17,000-square-foot buildings, each of which could have eight workers.

Depending on the need, the property has the potential to accommodate approximately 96,000 square feet of high-density data center floor space, which would ultimately create 30 to 40 jobs, according to Enseva officials.

The data center that will be among the most advanced and energy efficient of its kind with an innovative outdoor-air cooling system and the latest in Open Compute Project server designs, and it will be built to LEED Gold standards for energy efficiency. 

Earlier today the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) board approved $18 million in tax benefits through the High Quality Jobs program to Facebook to create at least 31 new jobs at a qualifying wage of $23.12 per hour.   

“We’re thrilled to become a part of the Altoona community, and especially appreciative of all the partners who helped make this project happen,” said Jay Parikh, vice president of infrastructure engineering for Facebook. “Facebook’s mission is to connect the world. Thanks to Iowa, we’re building the global infrastructure to bring the next billion people online,” he said in the release.  
The 194-acre site selected in Altoona could accommodate up to two additional data center buildings that may be constructed in future phases of the project. 

Hubbell Realty Co. has owned the land, which originally was slated for residential development, since 2005.  

Construction also is expected to begin this spring on a $12.5 million data center that will be operated by Waterloo-based Enseva. The company is expected to build multiple 17,000-square-foot buildings, each of which could have eight workers. Depending on the need, the property has the potential to accommodate approximately 96,000 square feet of high-density data center floor space, which would ultimately create 30 to 40 jobs, according to Enseva officials.