DeKALB – The world got a bit smaller this week when the DeKalb Data Center began serving traffic on the internet for the first time.
Meta’s announcement came as leaders behind the global company sought to tout how its technologies and services make connecting people worldwide possible. Meta, notably founded by Mark Zuckerberg, is the parent company of social media giants Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, among others in its portfolio.
“This data center is now part of our global infrastructure that brings our technologies and services to life, making it possible to connect billions of people around the world,” said Brad Davis, director of data center community and economic development at Meta. “DeKalb has been an ideal location for Meta. It has excellent infrastructure. It has great access to renewable energy, a strong pool of talent and some incredible community partners.”
Meta originally broke ground on the development of its facility in 2020. It has since grown to more than 2.3 million square feet across five buildings, with two buildings now serving traffic, project leaders said.
Once completed, it is projected that the DeKalb Data Center, 2050 Metaverse Way off Interstate 88 on the city’s south side, will add more than $1 billion in investment to the city.
Upon completion, the data center is expected to employ more than 200 individuals, project leaders said. The campus employs about 80, Meta staff said.
It isn’t an accident, though, that Meta and many other tech giants are seeing massive potential in our great state for data center growth. Their decision to locate here is a reflection of the hard work that our General Assembly members and our administration have done to position our state to win this business.”— Gov. JB Pritzker
Gov. JB Pritzker said the state of Illinois has quickly become a “hub of data center expansion” partly because of recent legislative action.
In 2019, state legislation signed by Pritzker offered tax incentives specifically to data centers to put down roots in Illinois. The bill requires companies to submit an annual report to Pritzker and the General Assembly on the tax credit’s outcome and effectiveness, according to Pritzker’s office.
“It isn’t an accident, though, that Meta and many other tech giants are seeing massive potential in our great state for data center growth,” Pritzker said. “Their decision to locate here is a reflection of the hard work that our General Assembly members and our administration have done to position our state to win this business.”
DeKalb Mayor Cohen Barnes gave thanks to the governor for pushing for the modification to enterprise zone legislation to allow data centers to be part of the incentive package.
“It just shows that vision without execution is hallucination,” Barnes said. “But this community and all of us here that are responsible for it, we executed on it. That vision actually became a reality.”
Meta also announced a new $290,000 funding commitment to Northern Illinois University to support new, year-round initiatives aimed at increasing college and career readiness for DeKalb High School students interested in engineering, robotics and other in-demand fields.
NIU president Lisa Freeman expressed her appreciation for the tech giant on behalf of the university.
“We’re grateful to Meta leaders for their vision, active engagement and investment in our community,” Freeman said. “We appreciate that Meta sees the significant value of having NIU, a nationally recognized research university, as a collaborator and a neighbor.
“Since day one, it’s been clear that Meta shares NIU’s strong commitment to catalyzing economic development for preparing the diverse workforce development that our region needs to thrive and to ensuring all young people have access to high-quality education and enrichment activities in science, technology, engineering and math.”
Meta has pledged to ensure that the DeKalb Data Center is water-positive in 2030, project leaders said.
The company also is prioritizing a partnership with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to develop a more sustainable concrete mix with the aid of artificial intelligence. As is the case with all of Meta’s data centers, the DeKalb Data Center relies on 100% renewable energy sources.
ComEd CEO Gil Quiniones heaped praise on project leaders for getting the data center online.
“Today only marks the beginning of our valued partnership,” Quiniones said. “We look forward to helping power your operations well into the future.”