As the son of EDS founder Ross Perot, Ross Perot Jr. grew up in a “data center world,” he says. “Not many people, when they’re 10 years old, were running around data centers like I did. When you think of the old data centers I was in as a boy, with the tapes and print cards, to the new data centers of today—it’s really amazing to see the evolution.”

Perot made the comments at a groundbreaking celebration in July for a new $1 billion data center for Facebook off Park Vista Boulevard north of State Highway 170 in Fort Worth. The 110-acre site lies within AllianceTexas, a 18,000-acre master-planned development owned by Hillwood, a Perot company. Initial plans call for three 250,000-square-foot facilities, with the first phase slated to open next summer. The project could get even larger—and is expected to surpass $1 billion in investment.

Winning a project from one of the world’s most influential brands bodes well for the region’s future, Perot said. “Facebook is one of the great high-tech companies of the 21st century,” he said. “The fact that we were able to go through the Facebook process, which is very rigorous and very professional, and come out on top, shows the world that this is where you want big data centers to be. Data centers are the new steel factories … they’re the engine rooms of high-tech companies.”

Tom Furlong, vice president of infrastructure for Facebook, said a number of factors played into the site-selection decision; the fact that Texas sits on its own energy grid was among them, as was access to wind power, fiber, and a high-tech workforce, he said. “We found all of those things here,” Furlong said.

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