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Data center expansion to benefit North Huntsville, local schools

Published on December 30, 2021

A planned expansion by one of Huntsville’s largest industries will bring about infrastructure improvements for North Huntsville and generate revenue for Huntsville City Schools.

A recently approved project agreement will allow Facebook, now known as Meta, to expand its campus in the North Huntsville Industrial Park. The company operates two data center buildings, and a Certificate of Occupancy for a third was issued about a month ago.

Three more buildings are under construction on the campus and could be completed by the end of 2022. The 250-acre expansion would create what Shane Davis, Huntsville’s Director of Urban and Economic Development, described as a second campus just north of the current site.

“They like Huntsville and they want to continue to grow,” he told the City Council at the Dec. 16 meeting. “They like our business climate and environment and our investment into infrastructure and the workforce quality that is here.”

To ease the expansion, the City agreed to improve Monroe and Liberty Hill roads and install a traffic signal on Pulaski Pike. The Liberty Hill improvements are complete, and design work on Monroe Road is nearly complete. Davis explained the City had previously budgeted for the infrastructure improvements.

Other infrastructure improvements include $2.8 million in sanitary sewer extension, $2.5 million of which the company will fund.

“They are paying their way,” Davis said, adding the return on investment to the City and school system is estimated at $8.1 million. “It’s a significant shot of revenue … and added growth in North Huntsville.”

Also reaping the benefits are local businesses and restaurants. There are more than 1,000 construction workers at the job site daily who are spending their money locally.

Community partners

When the second campus is complete, the Meta site will span nearly 600 acres of property in the industrial park. The new $750 million expansion will add 50 new jobs with a required annual wage of $80,000, exclusive of fringe benefits.

To date, the company has invested $3 billion in its Huntsville operations and has hired 75 employees, with more hiring underway. In October, Meta’s first tax assessment will flow to the school system. When the second campus is complete, it will generate an extra $8-10 million for local schools.

“When you take 27.5 mills annually of that investment and it’s going to your school system, it’s significant,” Davis said.

Meta has provided more than $1.9 million to Huntsville and Madison County through partnerships with local schools and nonprofits to help underserved youth, promote STEM education and support equity and empowerment initiatives.

Specifically, the company partnered with the U.S. Space & Rocket Center to help more than 150 local students attend Space Camp over the next three years. It worked with Girls Inc. on the Bold Futures STEM Summer Camp, which helps Huntsville-area girls build academic and life skills. It helped Fantasy Playhouse create a new technical theater lab and expanded learning at Boys & Girls Clubs of North Alabama by providing new computers at 3D printers.

Meta is also a founding donor of the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville Racial Equity Fund, which helps the community address racism and inequity through gaps affecting quality of life.

During his presentation, Davis also emphasized the company’s commitment to the environment by achieving net-zero carbon emissions. A 1,000-acre solar farm in Lincoln County, Tennessee, supplies power to Meta data center.

Click here to view the presentation from the Dec. 16 City Council meeting or click here to watch the meeting.