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Facebook breaks ground in Los Lunas


Gov. Susana Martinez, left, and Rachel Peterson, Facebook director of data center strategy and development, wield blue shovels during the company’s groundbreaking ceremony in Los Lunas on Tuesday. (ADOLPHE PIERRE-LOUIS/JOURNAL)

LOS LUNAS — With a rousing chorus of “three, two, one, Facebook!,” New Mexico officials and representatives from the social media giant broke ground on Facebook’s new data center in Los Lunas.

“This is a big win for our state and the community here,” said Gov. Susana Martinez, wielding a hard hat and shovel in the company’s signature blue.

Proponents have called the project important to the state’s economic recovery. Critics have said the 30 to 50 jobs the data center will provide aren’t worth the tax incentive package New Mexico promised to Facebook.

Los Lunas has promised Facebook a property tax break through $30 billion in industrial revenue bonds, a gross receipts tax reimbursement of up to $1.6 million annually and $10 million in Local Development Act funding. The state also will offer the company access to $3 million in Job Training Incentive Program money, although it is unclear how much of the money Facebook will use.

The data center is certainly the largest capital investment in the state in recent memory: $250 million in its initial phase alone, dwarfed only by Intel’s $1.8 billion Rio Rancho expansion in 1993.

Martinez said the state completed an extensive economic analysis of the deal during the process of courting Facebook to New Mexico, and that she is confident the company’s impact on the economy will last long past the inevitable construction boom that will occur while the data center is being built.

“Facebook has had a positive impact on every location they’ve been in,” she said. “The same will be true here.” Rachel Peterson, director of data center strategy and development at Facebook, said the company felt that of all the potential it looked at — including West Jordan, Utah, which was the other final contender for the project — Los Lunas was the best fit in terms of access to construction labor, ability to accommodate the data center’s infrastructure, and response from the local community.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be here,” said Peterson.