Sherman City Manager Robby Hefton compared the scope of the planned $1 billion data center development brokered by the Sherman Economic Development Corp. Friday to the impact Panda Power Funds’ 758 megawatt power plant has had on the city.

“The possibility of this would be a game changer for the city,” Hefton said. “This type of potential investment, we haven’t seen anything like that ever. The closest thing was Panda and that was a game changer for us as well. So I think this would bode very well for the city for generations to come.”

The SEDCO board of directors approved a contract to sell around 90 percent of Sherman’s Progress Park I to Thea Development LLC Friday so the company can develop the infrastructure for five data centers in the area. The company is paying around $1.84 million for the 48 acres of land, as each acre was appraised at about $40,000. Cassini Gateway I, as the data center development will be known, will be able to accommodate more than 1 million square feet of independently-owned data centers. Thea Development CEO Margie Guido said the data centers her company is targeting contain computer servers that hold information for the internet and provide cloud services.

“The taxable value on this project will probably be approximately $1.2 billion,” SEDCO President John Plotnik said. “To give you an idea, that’s more than half of the total taxable value of the city of Sherman today. Now there’ll be a few tax abatements offered, but think of those new taxes coming in — maybe that will help us in our next school election. And it’ll help us with new job growth — these are very, very good jobs.”

He explained Thea Development plans to build one data center building a year for the next five years and each of those will be about a $200 million facility. Plotnik said he expects the jobs created will have wages averaging between $80,000-$90,000 a year and those primary jobs will create secondary jobs as suppliers, customers and other companies that work with the data centers move into the area.

“If it’s 150 primary jobs, we are considering about two and a half secondary jobs (for each primary), so we’re in the 450 job range after you get the permanent and secondary jobs along,” Plotnik said. “And that just counts the data center, it doesn’t count all the other subsequent companies that will be following this. So it’s a great thing for the city of Sherman and for our region.”

SEDCO officials said in addition to the 150 direct engineering and technology jobs, the more than $1 billion capital investment expected for Cassini Gateway I would generate 350 construction jobs during the next five years. Hefton said since the project is still in its initial phases, the city knows little about it beyond the general contract information released Friday.

“For obvious reasons, it’s very highly confidential, in terms of who they’re dealing with and timing and whatnot,” the Sherman city manager said. “What we do know is the city of Sherman is well placed in terms of the assets that we have, the infrastructure, the availability of power, the high volume of gas, abundant water — those all bode well for us and that will be a difference maker in the end.”

Guido explained her company will be overseeing the building of the campuses and infrastructure to provide the resources for independently-owned data centers to come in and locate their businesses in Sherman. She said each of the five planned facilities is expected to take 12-14 months to build.

“The industry is growing rapidly and this area has a lot of great resources and we believe it’s very, very attractive for data centers,” Guido said. “I think it’s a great community and I think the resources here are second to none.”