At the Kearney City Council chambers Tuesday afternoon, City Manager Michael Morgan announced that Kearney failed in their bid to receive the mystery "Project Edge". The company is Facebook, and it decided to choose the Iowa town of Altoona early Tuesday morning.
"So much work went into this that you're disappointed," said Morgan.
Disappointment showed at a somber press conference announcing that Facebook, masked as "Project Edge", chose the competing location.
"We're not going to stop. Today isn't the end; it's the beginning of the next phase," said Buffalo County Economic Director Darren Robinson.
"We don't feel we lost the site for anything we can control," said Morgan.
But why Iowa over Nebraska for this data park?
"Today we heard tornado issues, we've heard water rates. But we don't know what the water rates are in Altoona, Iowa," said Morgan.
"When we had Facebook out here we had a dozer on site ready to move dirt the day they came to visit, so that's how fast we are to get this done," said Robinson.
Looking back, Kearney city leaders are proud to at least catch the eye of a major company like Facebook.
"Obviously when Facebook chooses you as one of two sites in the United States when they can go anywhere for that type and scope of a project, I think you can be really sure that your project was a very good one," said Morgan.
"If Project Edge would have stuck to their timeline, today would have been a groundbreaking, not an announcement of a new location. If they chose Kearney…we were ready," said Robinson.
The city released this statement: "On behalf of the City of Kearney, Economic Development Council of Buffalo County and the State of Nebraska Department of Economic Development, we are pleased to be able to compete on a national level in an effort to secure the largest economic development project in Nebraska's history.
"Although coming in second is not preferred, we are extremely proud of our efforts to offer a competitive proposal that resulted in TechOne Crossing, a premiere shovel-ready data park. Today, the 160+ acre site offers excellent access to data center specific infrastructure including transportation, water, power, and fiber. We offer sustainable energy options, such as year-round free cooling, and competitive financial incentives."
March 2009: Nebraska Department of Economic Development approaches Kearney to propose potential sites for data park team initiative.
June 2009: Kearney sites are chosen and data park team is configured.
September 2009: Kearney is selected to receive financial assistance from the state for planning and development, along with two other Nebraska sites.
October 2009: Kearney hired Gensler Architects to conduct a planning and feasibility study and produce site plans and marketing recommendations.
December 2010: Kearney closes on sale of 116-acre property at the southeast corner of 56th Street and Antelope Avenue.
February 2012: Kearney closes on sale of 53.5-acre property adjacent to 116-acre parcel.
Total City Cost: $1,000,150 for 169.5 acres
Planning Costs: $54,824