Facebook to build $750 million data center in Huntsville

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Facebook announced Thursday that it is investing $750 million to build a new data center in Huntsville.

Gov. Kay Ivey announced the project during a news conference in Huntsville. Ivey’s office said the $750 million center will employ 100 people with an average annual salary of nearly $80,000.

Ivey said she was pleased that a “forward-thinking, major company like Facebook” was putting down roots in the state.

“Every day millions of people go on Facebook to connect with family and friends and I sure am glad that when Facebook was looking to grow its data connections they sent a friend request to Alabama,” Ivey said. “Thank you for picking Alabama.”

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Facebook created a page about the project. The social media giant said the 970,000-square-foot (90,000-square-meter) data center will begin operations in 2020.

Matt VanderZanden, director of site selection at Facebook, said during the news conference that the Huntsville site was attractive because of a strong talent pool and availability of clean and renewable energy.

“We are so happy to be joining the Huntsville community. As one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the country, we knew it would be a great location for our newest data center,” VanderZanden said.

The project under development for the last year was originally called by the codename “Starbelt.” The Huntsville City Council last month unanimous approval for Starbelt to purchase 340 acres (138 hectares) at the city’s industrial park for $8.5 million.