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Google, Facebook Plan Big New Data Center Projects Across Midwest

Tech giants Google and Meta have announced a pair of major data center developments in Nebraska and Ohio.

A sign at Google's headquarters campus in Mountain View, California.

Google announced Thursday that it has filed plans to build a 1.4M SF data center in Omaha, Nebraska, part of a nearly $10B build-out of data center and office space around the world. 

That same day, Facebook parent company Meta revealed it would be adding more than 1M SF to its data center near Columbus, Ohio. The two projects are part of a growing number of hyperscale facilities in developing data center markets across Middle America, as communities from Nebraska and Ohio to Kansas and rural Texas vie to become what U.S. Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska calls “Silicon Prairie.”

“Investment in leading-edge technology is what every community hopes to have in its arsenal of attributes for economic development and growth,” Bacon said, according to KETV in Omaha.

According to planning documents filed with Omaha officials, Google’s planned campus there will consist of four buildings, with construction lasting between 18 and 24 months. The company indicates it plans to invest $750M in the Omaha campus and its other nearby data center in the town of Papillon. Google also operates a hyperscale data center just over the Iowa border in Council Bluffs, and it is rumored to be behind a 2M SF campus that has been proposed an hour drive from Omaha in Lincoln, Nebraska, according to the Lincoln Journal Star. 

Google’s projects in Nebraska follow the company’s announcement that it will spend $9.5B on data centers and offices this year, up from $7B in similar investments in 2021. While Google has provided few details regarding how much of that figure will be dedicated to data centers, officials did indicate that the number includes expanding Google’s data center footprint in Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Oklahoma, Iowa, Oregon and Nevada, as well as Nebraska, according to Data Center Dynamics. Along with the planned project in Omaha, Google also announced this week that it intends to spend $300M on data centers in Virginia, according to Data Center Dynamics. 

Meta — the company formerly known as Facebook — revealed Thursday it will expand its data center campus in New Albany, Ohio, the Columbus Business Journal reports. Meta launched its campus just outside Columbus in 2020 and will now reportedly add a pair of buildings to the site together comprising more than 1M SF.

New Albany — along with the Columbus area in general — has become a Midwest hub for data centers. AWS, Google and Stack also have facilities in New Albany or are in the process of building them. CBRE’s 2022 Data Center Outlook names the Columbus area as one of the most significant emerging data center markets, primarily due to the presence of key network connectivity points.

“Columbus also has a deep tech talent pool and affordable land prices, relatively low power costs and minimal natural disaster risk,” CBRE’s report states.  “Geography will play a key role in the growth of data centers in the region as providers consider the area for deployments of edge data centers.”

Like Google, Meta is in the midst of an aggressive data center development push across Middle America. Already in 2022, Meta has announced plans to expand its data center campus in Tennessee and build new hyperscale facilities in Idaho, Texas and Kansas City. This has coincided with major renewable energy development deals: Last week Meta announced a 156-megawatt power purchase agreement with EDP Renewables in Milam County, Texas.