DES MOINES — Everyone knew an expansion was coming. They just didn't expect it this quickly.
Even before the new Google data center south of Council Bluffs was completed, the company announced Friday it would make an addition that would roughly double its footprint.
The $200 million project will bring Google's overall investment in Iowa to about $1.1 billion dollars, said Chris Russell, operations manager for the Council Bluffs data center.
“This includes increasing the size of the building as well as deploying in Iowa even more of the computing infrastructure than it runs currently,” Russell said during a press conference Friday afternoon at the State Capitol.
The data center houses computer systems that support such services as the Internet search engine, Gmail, Google Maps and products such as Google+.
Russell cited support from local and state governments plus a quality workforce as things that make Council Bluffs a good place to expand.
“Iowa continues to be a welcoming place for Google, a place that — thanks to teamwork, leadership and hard work — continues to allow us to have great opportunities to grow, build and expand.”
Russell declined to say how many jobs the expansion would bring. In August he told The World-Herald that the original Bluffs facility employs more than 130.
Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan pointed out that during construction there will be a need for workers such as plumbers, millwrights and electricians — career fields that were hit hard by the housing crisis.
“All those are jobs that have been lost for a number of years,” Hanafan said. “It really kind of rebuilds the economy in our area.”
The announcement is another step in Google's growth in Council Bluffs.
The company started building a $600 million data center on 200 acres north of Lake Manawa in 2007, and opened it in 2009.
Then, in 2012, it broke ground on a $300 million data center south of town and east of the MidAmerican Energy plant that is to be completed next year, saying there would be more.
“Obviously to see it happen this quick is surprising,” Hanafan said. “It shows the growth they promised when they started this project.”
Russell said the expansion — to be completed in early 2014 — was necessary because of the overall growth in Google's business.
Said Bob Mundt, president and CEO of the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce: “This is just another example of how fast things can change and progress in the technology world.”
The announcement follows Thursday's news from Google of a $75 million investment in a wind-energy farm under development near the town of Rippey, about 50 miles northwest of Des Moines.
The high electricity demand of massive data centers is one reason Google backs energy projects that cause less pollution than traditional power plants. The company says it builds some of the world's most energy-efficient data centers.
Gov. Terry Branstad said Google “has found a unique recipe in Iowa: an educated workforce, reliable tax structure and reasonable energy costs.”
He said the investment represents “a major step toward Iowa building a diversified and forward-looking economy.”
The Council Bluffs data center is one of eight that power Google. The others are in Berkeley County, S.C.; Douglas County, Ga.; Mayes County, Okla.; Lenoir, N.C.; The Dalles, Ore.; Hamina, Finland; and St. Ghislain, Belgium.
Other data centers are being built in Quilicura, Chile; Hong Kong; Singapore; and Taiwan.
“When Google comes to town, the world takes notice,” said Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
“I can tell you it is one of the reasons why others are beginning to rethink Iowa. It's like getting the Good Housekeeping seal of coolness.”
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