Google building $600 million data center in Alabama


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Google plans to build a $600 million data center in Stevenson, according to Gov. Robert Bentley.

The center — Google’s seventh in the U.S. and 14th worldwide — will bring 75-100 “high-paying” jobs to Jackson County in northeast Alabama, Bentley said. Construction will begin in 2016.

“This a fantastic and exciting day for Jackson County,” said Jackson County Commission Chair Matthew Hodges.

This will be Google’s 14th data center campus worldwide.

“This is the start of a long-lasting, productive relationship with Google,” Bentley said.

Bentley credited Tennessee Valley Authority Chairman and Huntsville attorney Joe Ritch in those who helped secure the project.

“For more than 50 years, the Widows Creek plant has generated electricity for the region. Now the site will be used to bring Internet services and information to people around the world — powered by 100 percent renewable energy,” Gary Demasi, director of Global Infrastructure at Google, said in a press release. “We see a lot of potential in redeveloping large industrial sites like former coal plants, and we’re excited to bring a data center to Alabama.”

That press release continued:

“Economic development is a vital part of TVA’s mission to serve the people of the Tennessee Valley. TVA is committed to a diverse energy portfolio and providing reliable, low-cost and ever-cleaner energy to attract new companies and investments to the region,” said TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson.
“Google could have located their next data center anywhere in the world, but they chose a soon-to-be retired coal plant site with the right infrastructure in rural Alabama,” Johnson added. “What began as a power generation facility will now become a data center harnessing the power of the Internet to connect people all over the world.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions also released a statement shortly after the announcement:

“It is great news indeed to hear that Google is joining other world-class companies who have recognized that Alabama is a good place to do business. Google’s new data site, which I understand is their first new U.S. location in almost a decade, will bring hundreds of millions of dollars of high-tech investment into Jackson County, and will employ some 100 Alabamians with good-paying jobs.
“Like Mercedes-Benz, Airbus, Hyundai, and ArcelorMittal Steel before them, Google’s presence in our state is a testament that Alabama workers can help the world’s top companies grow and succeed,” Sessions’s statement read.

Sen. Richard Shelby echoed those sentiments in his own statement:

“Google’s announcement that it will open a data center in Jackson County is positive news for Alabama and proves that our state is a great place for companies of all sizes to do business.  I am delighted that Google has chosen Alabama as the home to this investment, and I look forward to the jobs and economic growth that it will bring.”

In addition, the data center will incorporate Google’s most advanced efficiency technologies, which today allow the company to get 3.5 times the computing power out of the same amount of energy, as compared to just five years ago.

Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said data centers produce many positive economic benefits, including well-paying jobs with highly technical skill sets, a supplier support system, and possible infrastructure upgrades.

“Google has established itself as the world leader in efficient data center technology,” Secretary Canfield said. “With the growing reliance on cloud computing projected to continue boosting the growth of data center operations, we think our relationship with Google will yield other opportunities in the future.”

He added that the project is the first recruited under Alabama’s specialized data center incentives, passed in 2012, and the Alabama Jobs Act, an overhaul of the state’s economic development incentives platform passed this year.

Dus Rogers, president and CEO of the Jackson County Economic Development Authority, said he expects Google to be a great civic partner throughout the region because of its strong track record of supporting education, career development and other local causes.

“Having Google set up shop in our backyard will not only benefit Jackson County but also the entire region because we can say that one of the world’s best-known brands decided to be our partner,” Rogers said.

Google said the Alabama data center will be its 14th globally and its first new U.S. location since 2007. It recently expanded its data center sites in Georgia, Iowa, Singapore and Belgium.”