LOS LUNAS — William Marks is in the business of growing relationships, and as the Facebook Data Center’s community development regional manager for the western region, he’s hit the ground running after nearly four months on the job.
“Working at Facebook is really awesome,” said Marks, a Navy veteran. “Los Lunas beat out hundreds of cities for this data center. We looked at if there were the right people with the right skill set, and if there was enough energy and infrastructure.”
Marks said the most important reason why Facebook decided to build in Los Lunas was the opportunity to form relationships with the community.
“That’s what makes my job great,” he said. “I’ve already found my new favorite coffee shop and I love eating at Teofilo’s.”
But what is more inviting is that Facebook can be a part of the community through the grants program, STEM programs and using renewable energy at the large center, which opened last month.
For most Facebook users, they post pictures, share statuses. Marks said the future of Facebook is much more — its about augmented and virtual reality. The social media company is working on technology in which people can see what it’s like to walk on the moon or even “act” as a doctor doing surgery.
“That’s the future and that’s why we need to build all these data center,” Marks said. “We’re planning out way in the future.”
With half of one data center building complete, a total of six will be built in Los Lunas in the next several years. It’s estimated the full build-out will be completed by 2023. Marks said five data centers are currently operating now around the world and another eight are under construction.
“Three percent of Facebook’s data went through this center when it opened,” Marks said. “That’s out of billions of pictures that have been uploaded.”
As the data center continues to be built out, Marks said an average of 1,100 people have been employed at the data center — people working security, electricians, HVAC techs and more.
“We’re still in need of skilled workers,” he said. “The great thing about it is if we bring in someone new — an apprentice — they could become an expert in the field and work anywhere in the world.”
Marks said the social media’s data centers have made a huge economic impact in the communities they’re in — $5.8 billion in gross domestic product worldwide, and about $1 billion locally in the next year or so.
“People who work at Facebook have to eat, sleep, shop here,” he said. “That one employee essentially supports at least 13-14 other jobs in the community.”
For Marks, his goal is to make an impact on the community, to listen to what the community needs are and to be a good neighbor.
Always with an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), Marks said Facebook will work with local schools and small businesses. He also said they will try to connect people both online and offline, whether it be helping local libraries purchase new computers, or even with a bike path or trail and events such as movies in the park.
“Facebook is built on making connections in communities,” Marks said.
He also said Facebook wants to be as inclusive as possible, allowing most people to benefit of the company being in Valencia County. He said while there are a lot of needs in the community, they are going to try and affect as many people as possible at places such as libraries and schools.
“I really want to work with the small businesses in the community,” Marks said. “Right now, 80 million small businesses advertise on Facebook. I’m going to have a workshop in Los Lunas for small business owners, and maybe a bigger workshop to learn the app platform.”
Other community events Marks hopes to bring to the community is digital safety for children and senior citizens.
“I want to put together speaker program that is interactive with the schools,” he said. “We want to build something lasting and meaningful with the schools,” Marks said. “That’s the goal for this year and the next year as well.”
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.