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Local Editorials

Facebook announcement is a big deal

The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn May 3 and we’re moving closer to resolution. The House took action on a host of budget bills and sent them to bi-partisan conference committees made up of members of the House and Senate.

The legislators will be meeting to find a compromise on each bill that can pass both chambers and become law. I was appointed as ranking House member on the Administration and Regulations budget conference committee.

We’ve held two conference committee meetings this week and are progressing toward a final agreement. I’m hopeful we will wrap-up this portion of the state budget prior to scheduled adjournment.

I’m wrapping up work on several bills. I’m helping negotiate compromise on a bill concerning biofuel distribution and working to help pass another which involves tax incentives for electric and natural gas vehicles. In addition, I’m working to ensure the governor signs a bill extending tax breaks for hydroelectric projects.

Other end-of-session efforts include securing support for the I-Green Center in Newton and Iowa’s food banks. Also, I co-sponsored several amendments to the Agriculture and Natural Resources budget intended to promote clean, healthy water in Iowa. I’ll discuss Agriculture Secretary Northey’s Nutrient Pollution Strategy and the critical condition of Iowa’s water in an upcoming column.

But this week, let’s focus on the big news.

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Facebook announced plans to build a state-of-the-art data center just down the road in Altoona. Facebook is an internet-based worldwide social network.

Facebook is just the latest worldwide company to come to Iowa and the latest development in Iowa’s strong emergence into the high tech industry. This is very exciting news for the entire state, particularly in central Iowa.

What’s good for our next door neighbor, Altoona, is good for us in Jasper County. This development creates great potential for our local businesses and will give our wind power industry another boost to create good jobs.

The company plans to build a $300 million data center in Altoona, across I-80 from the Bass Pro Shop. Future plans will bring the investment to $1.5 billion. Facebook will provide good-paying jobs and will start with an initial 31 employees. A total of three facilities will eventually be built at the Altoona location, employing many more central Iowans.

In coming to Iowa, Facebook cited Iowa’s skilled workforce and wind generation capacity. Iowa is currently the leading producer of wind energy per capita in the nation producing enough power for more than 1 million homes. Iowa now also generates 25 percent of its electrical capacity from wind turbines.

I was excited to be invited to the groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday. It’s been fascinating to watch some of the puzzle pieces come together and to help move a major piece of the puzzle into place. I’ve been involved with discussion on the role wind energy plays in this project throughout the session.

At this week’s announcement, Jay Parikh, Facebook vice president of infrastructure engineering, said, “We’re committed by 2015 to be able to achieve 25-percent renewable energy mix in our data center footprint.”

I’m committed to helping make this happen.

Data centers require a tremendous amount of energy as much effort must be made to keep the high-tech equipment at a cool temperature. It’s important that clean, renewable energy be utilized.

Wind manufacturers throughout the state will benefit. Again, what’s good for our neighbor is good for us.

Iowa’s quality workforce was also a big factor in the worldwide company’s decision to locate in central Iowa. With great schools, community colleges, and world-class universities, the company knew it could get the skilled employees they need to be successful. 

The jobs of the 21st century are becoming reality.   

Major, high-tech, world-wide employers are taking notice of our quality schools.

On the same day as the Facebook announcement, state officials also announced Google is planning another $400 million expansion at its facility in Council Bluffs. The expansion will create another 35 jobs and bring the total investment in Council Bluffs to $1.5 billion.

Iowa is also gaining a solid reputation as a friendly place to do business for smaller technology start-ups and entrepreneurs. Iowa’s Demonstration Fund provides financial and technical assistance to high tech businesses to help them commercialize concepts and attract late stage private sector financing.

The state is also working to build a sustainable innovation network. The high-tech jobs of the 21st century are growing in Iowa.

I’m proud to represent Newton, Colfax, Baxter, Mingo, Kellogg, Prairie City, Lambs Grove, Ira, and Valeria.  Feel free to contact me anytime at (641) 521-9260 or

Visit my website at “Friend” me on Facebook and “follow” me on Twitter.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve.

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