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Google investing extra $1 billion in data centre at Council Bluffs, Iowa

Fri 17 Apr 2015

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Google is planning to invest an extra $1 billion (£666 million) in its high tech data centre in Council Bluffs, Iowa, bringing its total investment in the project to $2.5 billion – the largest economic development initiative in the state.

The new investment came to light in the schedule for the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board, which Google will approach for an extra $19.8mn sales tax and use refund, in addition to the $16.8mn which the council has already granted it in Council Bluffs tax incentives. The total number of jobs that Google would have to provide in accordance with the agreement would be augmented to 70 under the new arrangement. At the time of writing Google has five listed vacancies at Council Bluffs, for three engineers, a facilities technician and a technical documentation writer.

Mountain View has reviewed its investment in the data centre periodically since launching the plant in 2007 at a cost of $600mn. An extra $300mn followed in 2012, and the company devoted an extra $400,000 to the data centre in 2013.

Iowa’s tax incentives for data centre development are bearing fruit for the state – in recent years it won out over Washington in its bid to host a new plant from Microsoft, with the latter eschewing Washington due to the expiry of its tax offerings in 2015. Facebook has also been attracted by the Iowa tax-break packages, opening a $1.5bn data centre in Altoona in 2014. Additionally Redmond is currently building two new data centres in West Des Moines at an estimated cost of $2bn.

The dispensation that the state of Iowa allows for data centre development is paralleled with contributions county and/or city government.

At the opening of the 2013 Council Bluffs data centre expansion, Google operations manager Chris Russell commented that the area is “a great place for a data center for a lot of reasons”. That rare peek into Google’s data centre infrastructure was hallmarked by interest in the fact that many of the conference rooms were ‘geek’-themed, and a stormtrooper from the Star Wars movie franchise was even identified on the premises.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority will consider Google’s expansion options today.

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