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Branstad touts benefit of Facebook project

Published: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 11:39 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 11:42 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Matthew Nosco/Daily News)
Gov. Terry Brandstad and Facebook's vice president of infrastructure engineering, Jay Parikh, field questions during a press conference on Tuesday, April 23.

For most people, Facebook is a simple website that they visit every day. However, behind the scenes there is much more going on to keep the website operating smoothly, and a large part of that infrastructure is coming to Iowa.

This was the message Jay Parikh, vice president of infrastructure engineering for Facebook, conveyed at a press conference on Tuesday as the company’s new server farm in Altoona was officially unveiled.

“We’re committed to creating 31 jobs here at the start of the project,” Parikh said. He explained that in Oregon, the home to one of Facebook’s other server farms, the company has more than doubled that number in full-time staff members, and it hired more than 2,500 workers during the construction of the facility.

To receive the incentive package, the company must create and maintain 31 jobs at a pay rate of $23.12 per hour each. These are jobs that could just as easily find a home in Jasper County, according to Chaz Allen, Jasper County Economic Development CEO.

“People like the atmosphere in these communities compared to living in the city,” Allen said. “More rooftops is eventually going to lead to more retail opportunities.” 

Allen was approached by a company who was interested in establishing a server  farm in Prairie City. While the project never bore fruit, it was because the company decided to pursue a separate project and not because of the location.

Gov. Terry Branstad welcomed Facebook to Iowa, touting the state’s driven workforce and accommodating climate for business as the reasons that Iowa was able to attract Facebook.

“To all Iowans, our entire state will reap the benefits from another multimillion dollar investment that will create jobs and bring additional tax revenue to our state,” Branstad said. “It’s high-tech, high-profile. It’s going to put Iowa on the world map.”

The project announced Tuesday is the first building in what might eventually be a three-building complex. 

Facebook will receive $18 million in tax credits from the state of Iowa for its $300 million investment, and it will also be exempted from property taxes in Altoona for 20 years.

In return for these incentives, the social networking company must meet the project’s budget by investing $7.3 million in land acquisition and site preparation, $292.2 million in building construction and computer hardware and $500,000 in job training.

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