What is a data center, and what are the benefits to Huntsville?

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Thursday, Facebook along with Huntsville and Alabama leaders announced a new, $750 million data center is on the way to 340 acres at the North Huntsville Industrial Park.

But what is a data center? And what do they do there?

"A data center is a large amount of networked computers, usually used for off-site storage processing and distribution of data," said Matt VanderZanden, director of site selection at Facebook.

The Huntsville site, said VanderZanden, would support things you do on Facebook.

"The Huntsville data center will host many of the same videos, photos, and news articles you already see every day on your news feed. And once it becomes operational it will help us provide a better experience for people in Alabama and around the world," he stated.

Council member, Devyn Keith, said what happens at the site in the industrial park needs to spur growth outside its limits.

"We are excited about what's going on in North Huntsville industrial park, but we have to capitalize and parlay those successes in the area," he stated. "We are playing the long game on this one."

Keith said the city's plans at the former J.O. Johnson High School, which include multiple community-centered areas and some single-family housing, are just some of the things that can support new employees Facebook may hire.

"We are going to give them an area they want to live in, in District 1," Keith said.

Plus, status doesn't hurt. Governor Kay Ivey is banking on more where this came from.

"With companies like Facebook with name ID and status, it's a sign to the entire world that Alabama is a special place," she said.

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