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Ohio Hopes Facebook Data Center, And Tax Breaks, Will Lure More Tech Companies

With a planned opening of 2019, Facebook's 10th data center will be built in New Albany with $750 million and a mixture of local and state funding incentives. State officials hope it will only be the beginning.

Facebook’s Rachel Peterson says the project, which will get unspecified local and state tax credits, will be good for Ohio.

“It’s going to be delivering hundreds of millions of dollars of investment to the local community here and to the state as well as thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of full time operational jobs," Peterson said. 

The 900,000-square-foot facility will be built on a 345 acre site just northeast of Columbus, and is planned to power exclusively off of renewable energy.

State leaders say the project will spur development from other tech companies. Kasich himself confirmed reports that Columbus is courting Asian electronics giant Foxconn to build a plant in the area.

"We are pitching Foxconn, we hope they will make something here," Kasich said at Tuesday's conference. "We don't know if they'll make something here, but we hope if they don't make something here they will bring other value to Central Ohio. We'll see."

On July 31, Columbus City Council voted to approve tax breaks for large businesses, which council member Elizabeth Brown said would hopefully lure international companies like Foxconn.

But Wendy Patton with Policy Matters Ohio isn’t so sure.

“Big money deal. A lot of impact. Very little information," Patton says. "So it’s the way the game is played but we think there’s a lot that could be done to improve the game.”

The data center will create about 100 permanent jobs. JobsOhio says this deal is the second largest in its four-year history.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.