Google investing $300M to build Iowa data center

April 24, 2012 - 4:45 PM

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Google Inc. announced Tuesday it was investing $300 million to build another data center in Council Bluffs, bringing the Internet search company's total investment in the western Iowa city to about $900 million.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company said the center would bring about 50 new jobs to the city across the Missouri River from Omaha, Neb. Those will include jobs in computer repair, heating and cooling, and logistics, said Chris Russell, operations manager for the Council Bluffs Google data center.

Construction will begin immediately on a 1,000-acre site south of Council Bluffs, where Google workers joined Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and other officials for the announcement. Russell could not say when the new center is expected to be completed or how large it would be.

Google's existing $600 million data center opened in 2009, bringing about 200 jobs to the area. That center houses computer systems that support services such as Google Search, Gmail and Google Maps. The new center will provide the same support, Russell said.

"We are glad to be in Iowa, and Google's future here is very bright," Russell said.

Russell, Branstad and Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan all credited the state's competitive electricity rates and educated workforce for Google's expansion in western Iowa, but the approval of more than $9 million in tax credits certainly didn't hurt.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority board approved the credits — which include everything from property tax to sales and corporate tax breaks — last week to help convince Google to select the Iowa site.

Debi Durham, director of the state Department of Economic Development, said the move makes good economic sense. She noted that Google's proposal for its first Council Bluffs data center was for $300 million, but that it doubled to $600 million by the time the facility opened in 2009.

"I well anticipate them doing that again," Durham said. "But their (tax incentives) are capped at $300 million."

Durham said that without the incentives, Google likely would have gone to another state, possibly neighboring Nebraska. Lawmakers there used Iowa's data center tax incentive as a model for their own measure, which was approved last year and designed to attract data centers like Google's facility in Council Bluffs.

Google announced a similar expansion in Pryor, Okla., earlier this month, bringing Google's investment in that community to $700 million.