Facebook data center (copy)

Facebook is in the process of building a massive data center in Sarpy County south of Papillion.

PAPILLION — Another company data center is in the works for Sarpy County in eastern Nebraska — a project that's raised questions about data center saturation.

The identity of the company is being kept a secret until the land transaction on the west side of Papillion is ensured and utility agreements are approved. It's being called "Project Wizard" for now. It's expected to rival in size the Facebook center being built nearby along Nebraska 50, south of Omaha.

Papillion Mayor David Black said the sheer size of the 275-acre development site points to another high-profile tenant.

Up to 200 employees could be working during the main shift of the 24-hour, 365-day-a-year operation, Papillion city records show. That number could increase later and is separate from the hundreds of people who will construct the facility.

Besides Project Wizard and the Facebook center, Sarpy County's data centers include ones for Travelers, Yahoo, Fidelity Investments and LightEdge Solutions.

The saturation question was raised during the Papillion Planning Board approval process. The centers require a lot of power as well as land that could be held onto for other manufacturing and industry centers that provide more jobs after development than data centers.

"When do you have too much concentration of one thing?" Black asked. "It is a very real question," he said. Development experts advise against municipal reliance on one industry.

He's certain, however, that Project Wizard will be good for his community. Schools especially should benefit, Black said, as they would receive new property tax revenue from higher tax bills on farmland that's been developed.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Bureau of Business Research is preparing, at the request of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, a report on the economic impact of data centers. Andrew Rainbolt with Sarpy County Economic Development Corp., an arm of the chamber, said the report is expected to show the impact so far has been positive.

For every 10,000 square feet of data center, Rainbolt said, there is a $10.6 million economic impact during construction. That equates about $3 billion over multiple years of buildout for the Facebook project, he said.

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