- Meta, parent company of Facebook, has launched two new data center projects in Texas and Missouri, pushing its total investment in U.S. data center construction and operations past $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 1 million square feet. Kansas City-based J.E. Dunn Construction Group and New York City-based Turner Construction are the general contractors for each project, respectively.
- Meta’s two newest data center projects come on the heels of a third $800 million data center announced in February in Kuna, Idaho, bringing the company’s footprint to more than 20 facilities worldwide.
Relatively cheap land and power, coupled with record tax incentives, have created favorable data center conditions outside of primary markets, according to a CBRE report on North America data center trends. This migration to secondary and tertiary markets will likely increase in the coming years, as limited space and power availability threaten to increase costs in supply-constrained primary markets, according to the report.
That’s why cities like Kansas City have seen recent interest from several data center users. For example, the Kansas City Council approved last year up to $8.2 billion in tax breaks 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 peak 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 among the most sustainable data centers in the world, according to a statement from Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s office.
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 losing its sheen?
But while those construction jobs are often a boon for contractors, the explosion of building in the data center sector has also led to questions around 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 deliver a return on investment to cities or states, according to the Kansas City Star.
That argument echoes criticism of taxpayers footing the bill for high-profile sports venues in major cities, which often employ part-time workers with low wage jobs.
Beyond those concerns, Meta’s data center projects have also drawn attention during their builds when hate speech was found on their sites.
The latest episode happened last month, when a subcontractor’s worker was fired in March for leaving a noose onsite of Meta’s $1 billion Eagle Mountain, Utah data center. M.A. Mortenson, the general contractor on the project, shut down the site in November when hateful graffiti was found inside a port-a-potty.
In August 2020, Turner Construction shut down its $1.7 billion Columbus, Ohio-area Facebook data center construction project due to racially charged graffiti on six portable toilets. Just a few months earlier in June, Turner Construction shut down another Facebook data center project in Altoona, Iowa due to a noose found on a subcontractor’s plan lockbox.
“Meta, formerly Facebook, has zero tolerance for any racist acts,” the firm said in a statement emailed to Construction Dive following the initial Eagle Mountain shut down. “While this is a challenge facing the entire industry, we’re working with our general contractors to implement measures that will help prevent them at any of our construction sites.”