Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal confirmed in a press conference in the wing of the state Capitol Wednesday afternoon that the social media giant Facebook will be building a data center at Stanton Springs, the commercial property managed by the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton Counties.
In making the announcement, Deal said that Facebook will create at least 100 full-time jobs and invest $750 million in a new data center in Stanton Springs over the next five years. New jobs will include positions in engineering and management, as well as opportunities for data center technicians.
“Georgia’s business-friendly climate and world-class technological infrastructure continue to attract innovative companies like Facebook,” said Deal. “It is fitting that the No. 1 company in the world in terms of active users has chosen the No. 1 state for business for this project. We appreciate Facebook’s leadership for recognizing Georgia as a state that serves not only as a major hub for general business, but also as a place where tech firms can be successful in the future. This project represents a significant investment and will create meaningful opportunities for the surrounding community. We welcome Facebook to Georgia and look forward to the growth of this partnership.”
In a press release following the announcement, Deal said the Newton Data Center will be part of the highly advanced infrastructure that helps Facebook provide apps and services to more than 2 billion people around the world. The new facility will be Facebook’s ninth data center in the U.S.
“As a company, Facebook is committed to creating positive impact at the local level – that means hiring, partnering and investing locally,” Rachel Peterson, VP of Data Center Strategy at Facebook said. “We are thrilled to be making Georgia our new home and look forward to a long and strong partnership with the state, Newton County, and our new community.”
Facebook will construct two buildings to occupy 970,000 square feet. The buildings will be fully operational in 2020.
“We couldn’t be happier to have such an outstanding company like Facebook as one of our community corporate partners,” said Shane Short, executive director of the Development Authority of Walton County. “This is just the beginning of a long-term partnership that will continue to grow stronger. We value our partnership with the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), Commissioner Pat Wilson, and his professional team, especially EJane Caraway. We are appreciative that they helped us with this project.”
Rumors have been circulating for weeks that the development, code named Morning Hornet, LLC, was indeed Facebook, but until Deal’s announcement on Wednesday, that was not confirmed. In January, the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton Counties and JC Flex LLC (also known as TPA Group, LLC) announced it had approved a contract to sell 416 acres in Stanton Springs to a company that is considering “developing a large-scale project by the code name Morning Hornet, LLC, an entity representing a major Fortune 250 technology company.”
Officials have been legally obligated to remain tight lipped about the specifics until now. The JDA did however announce the bond issuance of the first phase of the project, which is expected to represent a total of $750 million in capital investment. Short said this project brings with it many benefits to local Walton County residents, both in the long term and the short term.
“For the first time in 20 years, Walton County and the other three counties in the Joint Development Authority will no longer have to carry debt or debt service on Stanton Springs. Once Shire and Facebook start paying taxes in the very near future, all four counties will see significant taxes,” Short said, adding that benefits in the short term can be expected as well with the onset of construction. “There will be a significant impact on the local economy during the construction periods. We expect that hundreds of construction workers will be on site for an extended period of time.”
Short said it also will bring a significant number of quality jobs to the area in the long term for local residents even though it is likely that Facebook would bring some of its own personnel with it.
“We do anticipate that there will be a number of quality jobs through this project,” Short said. “As most companies do, I’m sure that Facebook will be looking for quality employees to work there.”
Stanton Springs was a logical location for the development for a number of reasons, according to Short.
“It is a first-class development,” he said. “It’s location to Atlanta, near I-20, the BioScience Training Center, and Shire’s beautiful campus were all factors that attracted Facebook to Stanton Springs. Not to mention, Georgia is ranked the #1 Place to Do Business for five years in a row. Gov. Nathan Deal, the Georgia Legislature, and the Georgia Department of Economic Development are to be commended for assisting in creating this environment.”
Besides enabling the JDA to be debt free for the first time in 20 years, Short said Facbook’s data center campus has other benefits that will be felt in the future and will help solidify the vision of Stanton Springs as a high-tech industrial park.
“Now that two world-class industries have chosen Stanton Springs, I think this positions the development to be more attractive to other industries considering Georgia,” he said.
It was less than six years ago in the summer of 2012 that Shire, at that time Baxter Industries, became the first to break ground on a new development at Stanton Springs. At that time, Deal said that the decision by Baxter to invest $1 billion in a new 155-acre bio-pharmaceutical manufacturing facility was the largest investment in Georgia since he became governor.
The Joint Development Authority (JDA) of Jasper, Morgan, Newton & Walton Counties first took roots as a concept between Newton & Walton Counties 20 years ago, becoming a reality in 1999 when Jasper and Morgan County joined the Authority. The goal was to attract industry to the region, specifically at that time for bio-science industries, later joining forces with Technology Park of Atlanta to create more of a mixed-use type development. The JDA split is 37.5 percent each for Walton and Newton counties, 15 percent for Morgan and 10 percent for Jasper.