FORT WORTH — Dignitaries including Gov. Greg Abbott turned ceremonial dirt Tuesday on a $1 billion Facebook data center in north Fort Worth.
A quarter million square foot building will be home to thousands of computers handling billions of Facebook photos, videos and messages posted every day.
Facebook expects to eventually open three of the server farms here.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price sent this message in person: "To our friends at Facebook: Howdy, and welcome to Cowtown."
Facebook chose a site on Park Vista Boulevard near Highway 170 in the Alliance Development. It beat out 220 competing sites.
"It will be the most capital-intensive deal we've ever done," said Alliance developer Ross Perot Jr. "We've not done a billion dollar deal."
His visionary project, launched 25 years ago, now hosts 400 companies and 40,000 jobs. Facebook's data center will bring only a few dozen direct jobs, but thousands of other employment opportunities have followed the social media giant's other centers.
The development is well worth nearly $150 million in tax breaks, Mayor Price said, adding that Facebook will attract other tech companies.
"Dealing with this kind of scale is a huge technological challenge," said Tom Furlong, Facebook vice president for infrastructure. He says affordable, renewable wind energy was a primary draw. A new windmill farm near Wichita Falls will keep the project green.
Gov. Abbott joked of a different kind of green. "Often times, Texas will give out a gift like a pair of boots," he said, adding that that Texas has a much bigger gift for Facebook and other companies.
"We slashed the business franchise tax by 25 percent, ensuring Facebook will be able to take home more profits."
Perot, whose father built a tech fortune at EDS, said he looks forward to bringing his dad out for a tour when the facility opens in 18 months.
"I was running around data centers when I was eight years old," the younger Perot said. "Dad will love it."