Data Centers

Apple to build $1.3B Iowa data center, promises local jobs and public fund

Apple's new data center will create 550 construction and operations jobs, and the company will also contribute funds to the local economy of Waukee, IA.

On Thursday, Apple announced plans to invest $1.3 billion to build a new 400,000-square foot data center in Waukee, IA. The new facility will run completely on renewable energy from day one, as do Apple's other data centers, the company said in a press release.

The Waukee data center aims to "better serve North American users of iMessage, Siri, the App Store and other Apple services," the release stated. It will also have an economic impact on the Des Moines area, Apple said: The project will create more than 550 construction and operations jobs, and Apple will also contribute up to $100 million to a new Public Improvement Fund, dedicated to community development and infrastructure in the Waukee area.

"At Apple, we're always looking at ways to deliver even better experiences for our customers. Our new data center in Iowa will help serve millions of people across North America who use Siri, iMessage, Apple Music and other Apple services — all powered by renewable energy," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in the release. "Apple is responsible for 2 million jobs in all 50 states and we're proud today's investment will add to the more than 10,000 jobs we already support across Iowa, providing even more economic opportunity for the community."

Construction on the data center is expected to start in early 2018, and Apple plans to bring it online in 2020, according to the release.

SEE: Special report: The cloud v. data center decision

The Public Improvement Fund will be established and managed by the City of Waukee, and will support the development of community projects such as parks, libraries, and recreational spaces, as well as infrastructure needs, the release stated. The fund's first project will be the construction of the Waukee Youth Sports Campus, which will include a greenhouse, playground, fishing pier, and fields for high school and public sporting events.

"We're honored Apple is choosing Iowa for the site of its most technologically advanced data center to date," said Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. "Apple's commitment to innovation and renewable energy leadership mirrors our own. This investment in our state is vital as we continue to develop as a technology hub and grow our workforce."

Apple will also work with local partners to "invest in renewable energy projects from wind and other sources to power the data center," the press release stated.

The Waukee site continues a trend from Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon of building large data centers in rural areas. While these data centers may bring the tech industry to small towns, they fail to provide many permanent jobs, or to greatly improve the local economy, experts say.

But data center growth shows no signs of slowing down: The industry is expected to double by 2021, due to massive increases in enterprise cloud adoption, according to a JLL report. And data center providers continue to spread across geographic locations to enhance reliability and speed, the report said.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

1. On Thursday, Apple announced plans to invest $1.3 billion to build a new data center in Waukee, IA, which will run on 100% renewable energy.

2. The data center will create 550 construction and operations jobs, and Apple will also contribute up to $100 million to a new fund for community development and infrastructure in the Waukee area.

3. The data center industry continues to grow along with the rise of enterprise cloud use; however, many of these facilities fail to create permanent jobs or economic opportunities for the rural areas where they are built.

iowadatacenterusaerialview.jpg

An aerial rendering of the Iowa data center.

Image: Apple

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About Alison DeNisco

Alison DeNisco is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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