Facebook officially lit up the like button on Papillion Thursday during a grand opening of the first of its buildings at the Papillion Data Center.

“Today we are happy to announce that Facebook’s Papillion Data Center is now serving traffic,” said Rachel Peterson, Facebook’s vice president of infrastructure.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, Papillion Mayor David Black and Papillion La Vista Schools Superintendent Andy Rikli joined Facebook officials in speaking at the event, touting the community and economic investment from the social media company.

Ricketts called it a team effort in persuading the social media company to come to Papillion, with the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Sarpy County officials, Omaha Public Power District and state government agencies for landing the $1 billion data center.

He highlighted OPPD and the rate structure it developed to allow companies to use sustainable energy to fulfill energy demands as a key incentive that clinched Facebook’s decision to build the data center in Papillion.

The data center is powered by wind energy from the Rattlesnake Creek wind farm in Dixon County. The wind farm will produce 1,300 gigawatts of energy each year, which the data center accesses through the power purchase agreement with OPPD.

Facebook, PLCS and the Papillion-La Vista Schools Foundation will partner to expand the skilled and technical trades programs at both of the district’s high schools.

“School districts simply cannot do it alone,” Rikli said. “Facebook’s leadership is important, and it’s going to help make this innovative program a reality.”

The data center and the partnership with PLCS will help develop the state’s tech talent pool and the “Silicon Prairie,” Ricketts said.

“That’s one of the things that we really got to focus on, is how can we make sure our young people are getting the training that they need to be able to take the jobs we’ve got available like here at Facebook,” he said.

Black said the data center was such a large project that it could have monopolized the city’s staff time and slowed other development in the city had it not been for the hard work of city staff.

“Staff really stepped up and said, ‘We’ve got to do this project but we can’t put the others on the back burner and slow them down,’” Black said. “It really was staff that rallied. There were times they were probably literally working day and night at certain points in time to make this happen without impacting the others.”

Construction on the other five buildings will continue until 2023, Facebook officials said, and the data center will employ around 200 people when completed.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.