Hyperscale Giants Prepare for Jolly, Green Data Centers in New U.S. Geographies

Jan. 26, 2024
There's lots of news this week about major hyperscale players building data centers in new places. Two key examples are AWS planning to invest $10 billion to build two new data center campuses on 1,700 acres of land in Mississippi; and Meta's latest pledge to build an $800 million hyperscale data center in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

DCF founder and Editor at Large Rich Miller warned us it would be this way in our annual eight key data center trends forecast (see #8), and sure enough, there's already been lots of reports lately, meaning in the past week, of hyperscale players building data centers in new places, both in the U.S. and abroad.

It's an open question as to whether cloud and AI hyperscale overlords such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Meta Platforms' Facebook can build data centers wherever they want in the U.S., or just wherever they're most wanted. 

The two cloud data center giants were certainly, at least by and large, "wanted" this week as they unveiled new hyperscale development plans in two of the nation's more historically genial locales, known respectively for hospitality of the southern, and friendly Midwestern, varieties.

AWS Announces $10 Billion Data Center Investment in Mississippi

For its part, after a flurry of legislative and municipal calisthenics chronicled by Datacenter Dynamics, AWS this week announced plans to invest $10 billion to build two new data center campuses on 1,700 acres of land in Mississippi.

As reported by Reuters, AWS yesterday revealed that it plans to invest $10 billion to build two data center complexes in Mississippi for its latest capacity expansion -- marking the single largest capital investment in the state’s history -- amid growing demand for cloud services as more companies start adopting widespread AI technologies.

Amazon's blog explained how the AWS investments will create at least 1,000 jobs and support new educational trainings in the Magnolia State.

Since Since 2010, Amazon has invested $2.3 billion in Mississippi, across projects including five fulfillment and sortation centers, four delivery stations, five solar farms, a wind farm, and a Whole Foods Market location.

In coordination with the Madison County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA), AWS said it will establish multiple data center complexes in two Madison County industrial parks.

Roger Wehner, AWS director of economic development, commented:

“Since 2011, AWS has invested more than $108 billion in its infrastructure across the U.S. to support customers of all kinds, and across all industries, in their digital transformation. Building on this, we are excited to expand our operations into Mississippi through this planned $10 billion investment, which will tap into the burgeoning tech sector across the state to create new, well-paying jobs and boost the state’s Gross Domestic Product each year."

Significantly, Wehner added, "We look forward to delivering new workforce development opportunities and educational programs that support the next generation of talent across the Magnolia State.”

Fiber-Optic Training Programs

As part of the hyperscaler's $10 billion data center campus investment in Mississippi, AWS said it will "provide support for Mississippi community colleges, technical schools, universities, and workforce development organizations to design, develop, and grow training programs and work-based learning opportunities that prepare job seekers for high-demand career pathways in the growing field of data center construction and operations, as well as the broadband expansion industry." 

As relayed by Amazon's blog, this promise includes awareness programs such as:

  • Fiber Optic Fusion Splicing Workshops: Two-day certificate courses implemented at local community colleges, technical schools, and universities that train individuals in new fusion splicing (the welding together of fiber optical cables) techniques and equipment, then connect these learners to fiber-broadband employers.
  • Information Infrastructure Workshops for Educators: A one-day workshop to help education and workforce leaders better understand the physical layer of cloud computing and the information economy, and the many different careers that are available.
  • Training and support for community colleges and universities to implement Fiber Optic Technician and Data Center Operations Programs: Including faculty training from industry subject matter experts; facilities and equipment donations to empower hands-on learning; and curricular content to link programs of study to industry standards and best practices.
  • Support for education institutions and independent learners with free, ready-to-learn cloud computing curriculum: This support works backwards from employer demand for specific skills and roles in cloud support, software development, and data integration, among other in-demand cloud computing skills. The offering builds on a stated commitment by AWS to provide free cloud skills training to 29 million individuals globally.

 

Green MegaCampuses, Meet Friendly Renewables

Unsurprisingly, given the company's just-attained status as the world's largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy for the fourth year in a row, Amazon is also the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in Mississippi, all in keeping with the company's shift in recent years to buying solar and wind power to speed the shift to a renewable AWS Cloud.

Further, Amazon recently expanded its renewable energy footprint in Mississippi with deployment of the state’s first utility-scale wind farm, located in Tunica County. 

The Delta wind project will include 41 wind turbines powered by winds blowing in from the Mississippi Delta. Amazon said the wind plant will be a dual-use operation, where the agricultural land will continue to be used for farming rice, soybeans, corn, and wheat under and around the turbines. 

The wind farm's developer and owner-operator, AES, expects the project to bring tens of millions of dollars in consistent tax revenue to the county and school district. The site is expected to create nearly 300 jobs during peak construction. 

The planned $10 billion investment by AWS expands on Amazon’s existing footprint in the state. Some of Amazon's other investments in Mississippi include: $2.3 billion invested in the state since 2010, including infrastructure and compensation to employees; $2 billion added into state GDP based on Amazon investments; and 7,500 full- and part-time jobs created in the state as of January 2023.

In the U.S., AWS is of course a "prime" inhabitant of the greater South from Texas to Virginia, most recently to the tune of $152 million for 140 acres of data center development in Manassas in Prince William County (a location you might've heard of...), and capped off by its growing cloud empire in the Midwest, including arguable crown-jewel location candidate, Columbus, Ohio. 

Meta to Build an $800 Million Data Center Campus in Indiana

Yesterday in Jeffersonville, Indiana, the state's Governor Eric J. Holcomb (who happens to be board chairman for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation), joined executives of Meta Platforms Inc. as the hyperscale giant announced plans to establish a new $800 million data center campus in Indiana. 

Even as it's set to propel global technology infrastructure, Meta said its new Indiana facility will support approximately 100 operational jobs and hundreds of local construction jobs in coming years. 

Meta will establish the nearly 700,000-square-foot data center at the River Ridge Commerce Center in Jeffersonville. 

The data center, which will be the company’s 18th in the U.S. and 22nd in the world, will be an important part of the global infrastructure that brings Meta technologies and services to billions of people globally.

“Today is a great day for Indiana and for our southeast region as we welcome another major investment to the River Ridge Commerce Center,” Gov. Holcomb said. “Indiana’s efforts to cultivate industries of the future are already paying dividends for Hoosiers, attracting growth in critical sectors like data storage, semiconductors, energy and electric vehicles. We’re excited to welcome Meta to Indiana and look forward to the company’s partnership in growing Jeffersonville and the southeast Indiana region.” 

Indiana Data Center Perks

Meta is starting construction on the Jeffersonville data center this month and expects the facility to be operational starting in 2026. In addition to the 100 operational jobs, the company expects to support more than 1,250 jobs at peak construction.

Like all of Meta's data centers, the company noted that its Jeffersonville Data Center will be supported by 100% renewable energy, on a campus that will achieve LEED Gold certification once operational. 

“We are thrilled to make Indiana and Jeffersonville our new home. We are committed to playing a positive role here and investing in the community's long-term vitality,” said Brad Davis, director of data center community and economic development at Meta. 

Davis added, “Jeffersonville stood out as an outstanding location for our newest data center thanks to its great access to infrastructure, deep pool of talent, and amazing community partners. Thank you to everyone who has helped us get here.”

Indiana has emerged as a convenient hub for technology companies thanks to its business-friendly environment, abundance of infrastructure resources, availability of skilled labor, and growing technology and semiconductor sectors.

 In 2023, the state welcomed more than $28.7 billion in planned capital investment from businesses committing to locate or grow in Indiana. Together, these businesses expect to create 21,866 new jobs with average wages higher than both the state and national averages.

“On behalf of the residents of Jeffersonville, I am ecstatic to officially welcome Meta to our community,” said Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore. “River Ridge has been saving this 619-acre site for a mega company, and Meta’s investment and commitment to our community are proof that this strategy is paying off. The economic activity around this new data center will support every sector of our economy, and we appreciate all those who have worked to bring Meta to Jeffersonville.”

According to a press statement, based on the company’s investment plans, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation committed an investment in Meta in the form of a 35-year term data center sales tax exemption, for a minimum $800 million in eligible capital. 

For each additional $800 million of eligible investment made at the site within that time period, Meta will be eligible for tax exemptions for an additional 5-year period, up to a total term of 50 years. 

These incentives are performance-based, meaning the company is eligible to claim state benefits once investments are made. 

The city of Jeffersonville and the River Ridge Development Authority offered additional incentives. 

Meanwhile, Charlotte, N.C. - based utilty Duke Energy, whose service is widespread throughout Indiana, was cited an important partner in enabling the overall investment.

Hyperscalers Gonna Scale

Commercial Property Executive reported that Turner Construction Co. is serving as the project’s contractor, while Meta is partnering locally with the Indiana Economic Development Corp., and One Southern Indiana's Chamber & Economic Development unit.

In closing, we remind ourselves that the last time we heard about an $800 million hyperscale data center project in a brand new location from Meta, it was....just about a month ago, in El Paso, Texas. Then this week, it was in Indiana.

And now, it's anyone's guess where - but not when - Meta's next $800 million hyperscale data center investment will drop. While the "where" could clearly be anywhere, the timing of "when" seems likely to be "very soon."

Meanwhile, Meta's Jeffersonville announcement came just days after Google unveiled plans to build a cloud campus in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

 

 

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About the Author

Matt Vincent

A B2B technology journalist and editor with more than two decades of experience, Matt Vincent is Editor in Chief of Data Center Frontier.

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