Meta invests $1.6 billion in 2 additional data centers

Diving Brief:

  • Meta, Facebook’s parent company, launched two new data center projects in Texas and Missouri, bringing its total investment in building and operating data centers in the United States to more than $16 billion.
  • An $800 million facility in Temple, Texas will total approximately 900,000 square feet, while another $800 million facility in Kansas City, Missouri will total nearly one million square feet. JE Dunn Construction Group, based in Kansas City, and New Turner Construction, based in York, is respectively the general contractor for each project.
  • Meta’s latest two data center projects follow a third $800 million data center announced in February in Kuna, Idaho, expanding the company’s footprint to more than 20 facilities worldwide.

Overview of the dive:

Relatively cheap land and electricity, coupled with record tax incentives, have created favorable conditions for data centers outside primary markets, according to a CBRE North America Data Center Trends Report. This migration to secondary and tertiary markets will likely lead increase in the coming yearsas limited space and power availability threaten to drive up costs in supply-constrained primary markets, according to the report.

This is why cities like Kansas City have recently attracted the interest of several data center users. For example, the Kansas City Council last year approved up to $8.2 billion in tax relief for the Meta data center site (pictured above). The Kansas City development will create up to 100 operational jobs and more than 1,300 jobs at the peak of construction, according to the Kansas City Area Development Council.

The new data center will run on 100% renewable energy, achieve net zero carbon emissions, use 32% less energy and be 80% more water efficient than traditional data centers, making it the one of the most sustainable data centers in the world, according to a statement from the office of Missouri Governor Mike Parson.

The Texas project will support 100 operational jobs and employ 1,250 construction workers on site during peak construction, according to a press release from the Temple Economic Development Corporation.

Sector in decline?

But while these construction jobs are often a boon for contractors, the explosion of construction in the data center industry has also led to questions about the lasting economic benefits for communities.

For example, Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First, which tracks taxpayer subsidies across the country, said data centers rarely provide a return on investment for cities or states, according to the Kansas City Star.

That argument echoes criticism from taxpayers footing the bill for high-profile sports venues in big cities, which often employ part-time workers with low-paying jobs.

Beyond these concerns, Meta’s data center projects have also drawn attention during their constructions when hate speech has been found on their sites.

The latest episode occurred last month, when a subcontractor worker was fired in March for leaving a noose at the site of Meta’s $1 billion data center in Eagle Mountain, Utah. MA Mortenson, the general contractor for the project, closed the site in November when hate graffiti was found inside a port-a-potty.

In August 2020, Turner Construction ended its $1.7 billion Facebook data center construction project in the Columbus, Ohio area due to racist graffiti on six portable toilets. A few months earlier in June, Turner Construction closed another Facebook Data Center Project in Altoona, Iowa due to a noose found on a contractor’s blueprint safe.

“Meta, formerly Facebook, has zero tolerance for any act of racism,” the company said in a statement emailed to Construction Dive after Eagle Mountain was initially closed. “While this is an industry-wide challenge, we are working with our general contractors to implement measures that will help prevent it at any of our construction sites. “

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