LINCOLN — Facebook has picked Iowa as the location for a data center, despite an effort by Nebraska to sweeten its economic incentives to lure the social media giant.
And Iowa will get another high-tech plum: an additional $400 million investment at an existing data center for Google just south of Council Bluffs.
The Iowa Economic Development Authority approved state tax breaks for both projects this morning.
Facebook chose a site in Altoona, Iowa, near Des Moines over a site in Kearney, Neb.
As proposed, the multiphase project will have up to three data center buildings, each with about 300,000 square feet, on a 194-acre site. The investment would initially be $300 million but could reach $1.5 billion. The project could create about 30 jobs.
A groundbreaking is planned for later this year, with the first phase of construction to be complete by the end 2014.
Iowa will provide up to $18 million in state tax incentives, including $8 million in sales tax refunds related to construction costs and a $10 million investment tax credit. The City of Altoona will exempt local property taxes for the site for 20 years.
“So Facebook is coming to Iowa — very exciting,” Pete Brownell, a member of the Iowa board, said today.
Nebraska officials had declined to comment on the loss of the data center, referred to as “Project Edge” until an official announcement was made.
Last year, the Nebraska Legislature passed additional incentives on taxes and electric rates to further attract a data center that eventually was linked with Facebook, the social media Internet site.
Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse said Monday that even if Iowa was chosen over his central Nebraska city, competing for such a huge data center was a good experience and an honor for the community.
Kearney's proposed site, near its airport, eventually will attract a data center, Clouse said.
“We've had other people out here looking at it. We've had people telling us it's just a matter of time because it's a great site,” he said.
One Council Bluffs official said the developments illustrate how attractive state incentives, along with low electric rates and available land, can lead to economic growth.
“We appreciate the investment they've done,” Terry Bailey of the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce said of Google.
In Iowa, the data center has been referred to as “Project Catalyst” to protect the company's confidentiality. The project was referred to as Siculus Inc. on today's agenda of Iowa's economic development board.
Google also has plans to up its total investment in its Council Bluffs data centers to $1.5 billion.
Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., opened its $600 million data center on 200 acres of land in the Lake Manawa area in 2009.
The company then announced plans for a second Bluffs data center, on a 975-acre site east of the MidAmerican Energy plant, on the east side of Interstate 29.
A year ago, Google won approval of $9.6 million in Iowa tax breaks for that $300 million expansion, which would create 50 jobs.
In November, the company announced that it was investing another $200 million, without tax incentives.
Now, according to a filing with the Iowa Economic Development Authority, Google is pursuing an additional $400 million expansion. The company will receive another $7.2 million in sales tax refunds related to construction costs, bringing state tax incentives to a total of $16.8 million.
Google is not pledging any additional new jobs.
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