DeKalb, Illinois, just got a whole lot more connected. Meta, the tech behemoth behind your favorite time-sinks like Facebook and Instagram, has just juiced up its latest data center in this small college town, bringing online a whopping $1 billion facility that promises to supercharge your social media experience.
After a three-year construction saga, the DeKalb data center is finally humming with activity—a sprawling 2.3 million-square-foot complex that's not only a titan in the digital domain but also a boon for the local job market. Over 1,200 construction jobs were handed out during the build, and there's talk of 200 permanent roles now that it's operational, as noted by The Chicago Tribune. DeKalb Mayor Cohen Barnes couldn't help gushing about the project, saying, "The people that are going to run this data center are going to be highly qualified, highly educated, and well-paid individuals, and I hope every single one of them wants to live in the city of DeKalb," he told WIFR.
Meta's new data center juggernaut falls in step with Illinois' recent data center boom, thanks in part to the state's Data Center Investment Program. The legislation, enacted in 2019, pulls data centers with sweeteners like tax exemptions, aiming to hook companies that drop at least $250 million into their building projects and create a minimum of 20 operational jobs. Meta's Brad Davis, speaking to the crowd, called data centers the "engine" that enables everything Meta does.
The DeKalb site boasts 100% renewable energy to keep those servers cool and carbon-neutral. The site's building materials even got an environmental glow, with Meta collaborating with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to whip up a sustainable concrete mix for construction. But global impacts aside, it's the local touches that stand out, like Meta's commitment to funding STEM programs to the tune of $290,000 for Northern Illinois University. This includes the creation of a shiny new STEAM room, weaving art into the STEM fabric, aimed at enriching young minds.
The ripples of this digital tide are expected to lap beyond the economic shores, too. With the data center taking on the heavy lifting for the region's social media traffic, folks around Chicago and northern Illinois are poised for a notable uptick in their online experiences. Speed and efficiency are the names of the game, with Meta hinting at possible performance boosts for nearby app users, all thanks to the DeKalb data center sliding into the digital workflow.