TEMPLE, Texas (KXAN) – Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is expanding its presence in Central Texas.
It plans to make an $800 million investment — this time outside of Austin. The company is building a hyperscale data center about an hour north of Austin in the town of Temple.
“We call Temple, somewhat jokingly, but not so jokingly, Austin’s northernmost suburb,” said Temple mayor Tim Davis.
About an hour’s drive from such a tech hub has advantages.
Meta’s new downtown area will occupy nearly 400 acres of land at Industrial Boulevard and Northwest HK Dodgen Loop. Davis said up to 1,250 construction workers will be deployed to build the facility during peak construction times.
The center, which is expected to open in 2024, will initially have 100 jobs. Davis calls it transformational for his city.
“There’s another $7 million a year going into the city treasury of Temple. The school district gets so much tax revenue that they could drop their bonds from a tax rate of 12 cents per $1,000 to three cents,” Davis explained.
According to the city, the center will have rows and rows of computer servers. Whenever you like or share something on Facebook or Instagram, that electronic data goes to those data centers.
Adrian Cannady, president and CEO of Temple’s Economic Development Corporation, said talks with Meta began a year ago.
“As we think about the future timeline, we should see machines moving in the field in the coming weeks and a record by the August/September time frame, maybe steel in September,” Cannady explained. “Hopefully they will be operational in the first quarter of 2024.”
Cannady said this project confirms what city leaders have said about Temple’s position on the Interstate 35 corridor between Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth.
“As the Austin community continues to grow northward and opportunities arise in Temple, with respect for land and knowledge-based talent, we become a more attractive option,” Cannady said. “If Meta puts a pin on the map in Temple, Texas, it really gives us an opportunity to get the message across that Temple can be a place that supports not only large-scale projects, but also large-scale projects in the IT sector. †
Experts said the availability of space and low cost of doing business are some of the main factors that draw large tech companies to smaller towns and suburbs near Austin. They warn that if we see the expansion of Meta, Amazon and Samsung in our region, we need to think about producing skilled workers, as well as infrastructure.
“A lot will depend on infrastructure as congestion continues through Austin [and surrounding areas] is a barrier to growth,” says economics professor Stuart Greenfield, Ph.D. “The other problem you run into is, are we producing enough well-trained workers in the state, in this area, to meet the needs of these high-tech companies?”