Share story

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Facebook will build a nearly 1 million-square-foot data center at the foot of Utah’s Lake Mountains, state officials said Wednesday. It will employ a fulltime staff of between 30 and 50 people.

The announcement ends days of speculation about a mysterious company interested in the proposed facility. Utah County last week approved $150 million in tax incentives for the project without divulging the company’s identity,

Gov. Gary Herbert predicted the new project near Eagle Mountain, 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City, would lead to more than $850 million in financial investment and infrastructure projects in the region.

“It is a significant opportunity,” Herbert said during an event at Eagle Mountain City Hall. “I don’t know if we can actually quantify all the benefits that are going to come to not only Eagle Mountain but Utah Valley and the state as a region.”

Facebook’s head of data center strategy, Rachel Peterson, said the company picked the site because of the availability of renewable energy, local workforce and community support.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the next month and the data center is expected to open in 2020.

Wednesday’s announcement ends a state wooing effort that stretches back two years.

In 2016, Utah tried to coax Facebook into building a similar facility in the Salt Lake City suburb of West Jordan, but the deal fell apart when some local leaders called the offer too generous. Critics said that the few permanent jobs the project would create were not worth the public subsidies. Facebook subsequently took the data center to New Mexico.

Three months later, state legislators voted in a special session to approve a sales tax exemption for data centers.