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Study: Facebook Has Big Impact on DSM USA Economy

Facebook DSM USA

April 23, 2018

Everything you upload and post online lives in the cloud. And that cloud has a physical location in data centers across the world. The proliferation of photos, video and other online data means tech companies like Facebook, with its billion-plus users, have to build the infrastructure to accommodate it all.

Greater Des Moines (DSM) is home to some of the largest data centers in the country. With it brings tech jobs, construction jobs and improved infrastructure like the fiber that carries all that data.

Facebook is building its fourth data center in Altoona. Once completed the social media giant will have spent more than $1.5 billion building a foot print of 2.5 million square feet in DSM — a real economic win for the region

Economic impact

A study conducted by RTI International found that Facebook’s expenditures on U.S. data center construction and operation has contributed $5.8 billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It’s also added 60,100 jobs between 2010 – 2016, which is equal to $835 million and 8,600 jobs per year.

For every data center job, there are five jobs supported by the economy, according to the study. And for every $1 million in Facebook spending on data center operations, there are 13 jobs supported in the economy.

Altoona alone has more than 300 employees employed by Facebook. More than 20 other open positions are currently listed. There’s also an average of 800 construction workers per day at the site.

Renewable energy

Facebook data center spending has also made a large impact on renewable energy and community projects. Facebook’s Altoona location is powered with 100 percent clean and renewable energy in part thanks to MidAmerican Energy’s leadership in wind energy. The DSM data center is among the most advanced, energy and water-efficient facilities in the world, utilizing 38% less electricity and 50% less water than an average data center.

Community support

Facebook’s presence in Altoona has also had a further positive effect to the local community. More than 60 grants totaling close to $500,000 have been distributed to causes in DSM since 2014. One organization who received funds is Pi515. They offer an afterschool program for refugee and other underserved students, exposing them to technology and providing the skills to code.  

The afterschool program received two grants totaling more than $16,000 to purchase resources like laptops, software, robotic kits and more. Through these resources, students get hands-on experience with technology they might otherwise have never had the opportunity to use.

With existing data centers like Facebook expanding and more companies opening data centers here, it’s no wonder the DSM region has been booming as the technology hub of the Midwest.

Learn more on why the region’s strategic location, low power costs and increasing investment in renewable energy make DSM a hub for data center sites.

Alex Lynch

Alex Lynch is the executive director of East Polk Innovation Collaborative (EPIC). EPIC serves as the economic development organization for the cities of Altoona, Bondurant, Pleasant Hill and Mitchellville. Lynch works on site attraction for data centers, logistics advanced manufacturing and retail. Previously, Lynch worked as economic development liaison for Senator Tom Harkin.