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Social media company will add another two buildings, bringing its footprint in Prineville to 3.2 million square feet

JASON CHANEY - Local leaders and Facebook representatives gather at the Prineville City Hall plaza to announce another Facebook data center expansion. Pictured left to right are Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe, KC Timmons, Facebook's director of site operations for its west region, Oregon Rep. Mike McLane, Crook County High School Principal Michelle Jonas, and Crook County Judge Seth Crawford.

The giant Facebook data center campus at the top of the grade is going to get even bigger.

Local leaders and representatives from the social media company gathered at Prineville City Hall Thursday morning under sun-soaked skies to announce that they will be adding another two buildings to its already substantial local footprint.

KC Timmons, Facebook's west region director of operations, said the new construction will bring the total Prineville footprint to more than 3.2 million square feet and will represent an additional investment of $750 million.

He added that the addition is expected to bring as many as 100 additional jobs to the community, adding to the more than 350 that are currently supported by its local operations.

"We anticipate, in the peak part of construction, there will be more than 1,500 workers on site," he said.

The new buildings are scheduled to come online in mid-2020.

This announcement comes less than one year removed from a December announcement that Facebook would be adding two buildings to its Prineville site.

"That expansion project continues to be on schedule," Timmons said. "So far, we have poured more than 50,000 cubic feet of concrete. That is enough to fill Barnes Butte Reservoir."

Timmons took time during the announcement to highlight the fact that Facebook recently committed to power its data centers exclusively with solar energy, which will result in two new power plants getting developed in Crook County.

He also took a moment to speak about Facebook's Community Action Grant program, which awards up to $15,000 to multiple Crook County projects and education efforts every year.

Crook County High School Principal Michelle Jonas joined a group of local leaders who spoke at the announcement ceremony Thursday, and she spoke highly of the social media company's partnership with the district.

"It has truly been an amazing opportunity for our school district to have a partner like Facebook," she said, "that continually goes above and beyond to find ways to support our staff, students and community."

School District Superintendent Sara Johnson added that since 2011, Facebook has contributed $397,162 to local schools.

"In our budget, it makes a big difference for what kids get," she remarked.

School officials weren't the only ones to thank Facebook and praise their impact on the local community. Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe and Crook County Judge Seth Crawford pointed out that the local economy was struggling mightily before Facebook first came calling in 2009.

"The way of life that we cherish had been in jeopardy as industries have changed or been killed by unreasonable regulations, taking our local economy and young families with it," Crawford said. "However, today, because of our partnership with Facebook, our community has enjoyed a surge in our economy."

Roppe said that a great partnership with Facebook has enabled the city to thrive and better pay for essential municipal services, including public safety.

"I can say, with 100 percent confidence, that we are a better, more stable city, thanks to our partnership with Facebook," she said.

Mike McLane, Oregon's House District 55 Representative and Powell Butte resident, took office just as Facebook was starting to build in Prineville. He said Thursday that during his time in the Legislature, he and Democratic colleagues across the aisle worked together on two separate occasions to provide the social media company tax assessment certainty. Without that certainty, future expansion had been in doubt.

"Now we are not known for just timber and tires," said McLane. "We are known for timber, tires and technology."

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