One of the most exciting days in Henrico County’s history was rooted firmly in 21st-century technology.
The occasion was an official announcement of Facebook Inc.’s pending arrival to Henrico at a news conference held at the state Capitol on Thursday.
Facebook will invest $1 billion in Virginia as part of its plans to establish a 970,000-square-foot data center at White Oak Technology Park in eastern Henrico. The data center will cost $750 million to build and more than $250 million will be invested for the construction of new renewable energy projects.
Facebook is expected to have 100 full-time employees when the data center comes online — probably in 2019 — and construction is expected to create thousands of jobs.
In his remarks, County Manager John Vithoulkas called the occasion one of Henrico’s most exciting.
“You’ve got one of the most recognized companies in the world that’s chosen to locate in Henrico,” Vithoulkas said in an interview.
The data center will include two buildings and a so-called admin area. Additional buildings may be developed later and Facebook has enough land for five buildings, said Facebook spokeswoman Lindsay Amos.
Facebook’s Henrico Data Center will be the company’s eighth in the United States. Rachel Peterson, Facebook’s director of data center strategy, said the Henrico facilities will be some of the most advanced, energy-efficient in the world.
“Henrico County is a great fit for our newest data center, and we look forward to being part of the community,” Peterson said in her remarks.
Vithoulkas said the county gave Facebook an $850,000 sewer connection credit on a total fee that would be upward of $2 million. Facebook will become one of the top taxpayers in the county and one of its top water users, Vithoulkas said.
Facebook plans to use both water and air to keep the Henrico Data Center’s hardware cool. According to Facebook, its data centers use less water than typical data centers.
Vithoulkas said work at the data center will mostly consist of maintaining computers.
“It’s not the factory of yesterday,” Vithoulkas said. “It’s really about the building itself, which is massive, and the equipment in the building.”
In addition to the tax revenue and job impact, local leaders are banking on Facebook to play a role in the region’s schools, though what form that will take hasn’t been finalized.
Tyrone Nelson, the Henrico supervisor for the Varina District, which is home to Facebook’s site, said he was looking forward to seeing the impact Facebook would have on the community.
“The thing that excites me about Facebook is the constant care about investing in the community,” Nelson said.
Henrico has been laying the groundwork to lure Facebook.
Earlier this year, Henrico’s Board of Supervisors lowered the county’s tax rate on computers and equipment related to data centers.
In September, Henrico’s Planning Commission approved a development plan for a data center at White Oak of up to 2.5 million square feet code-named Project Echo.
As part of a new renewable energy tariff designed by Facebook and Dominion Energy Virginia, hundreds of millions will go toward the construction of solar facilities to help make the data center powered with 100 percent renewable energy.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe said the project is three years in the making and included a meeting on Monday in San Francisco to tie things up.
“I am proud to welcome Facebook to Henrico County, and we look forward to a strong partnership,” McAuliffe said.