Facebook to invest $800 million in Illinois to build data center

(The Center Square) – The northern Illinois city of DeKalb has been chosen as the site for a new Facebook data center, an $800 million investment from the social media company.

The facility will employ around 100 workers when it opens in 2022, with starting wages at a minimum of $38.50 per hour.

“This is going to be transformational as it relates to our economic developments here in the future,” DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith said. “We would hope that because this is a high-tech installation, that future high-tech companies take a serious look at DeKalb, Illinois.”

He ticked off the reasons why the city was attractive to the social media giant and could land more projects in the future.

“Major access to transportation, both rail, air, and, roadway,” Smith said. “Educational institutions, the leading one being Northern Illinois University. A good workforce. And experience with companies such as Target and Nestle and 3M that are here and have been successful in finding the city of DeKalb and DeKalb County easy to work with.”

The $800 million facility is slated to open in 2022, just south of I-88 along Peace Road.

Over the course of its first 20 years, officials estimate $62 million in property tax revenue for local DeKalb taxing bodies.

State Rep. Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore, who represents the DeKalb area, said pro-business reforms included in last year’s capital bill were key to landing the project.

“The Democrats and the governor could have done anything they wanted to the state of Illinois,” Keicher said. “The fact that we held out and that we gained these concessions didn’t offer the opportunity to wipe away all of the bad things the Democrats were doing, but it gave us an opportunity to grow our way out.”

Keicher voted in favor of the capital bill despite the tax and fee hikes that were included to raise revenue in the package. He said he views the announcement as vindication for the hard work needed to improve the final bill.

“I can’t understate, as a freshman legislator, the thought process that I had to go through, knowing that there would be voters who weren’t happy with the entire Democrat package,” Keicher said. “But seeing the opportunity for what a data center like this can do for the future of DeKalb is exactly the type of leadership that Illinois needs. It needs leadership that believes local communities can grow and prosper, and that we have a bright future in Illinois if we continue to think that way.”

Construction on the 907,000-square-foot facility is expected to support more than 1,200 workers. It will be Facebook’s first data center located in Illinois.

“This is going to change the face of DeKalb, not only from an outward perspective, but how we look at ourselves,” Smith said. “You know, I said this announcement was going to knock the socks off the folks of the city of DeKalb and it certainly did.”

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