Can the 'Google Economy' Lift Small Towns?

Can former furniture workers find jobs at Google? Many residents of Lenoir, North Carolina have gone back to school at the local community college to learn IT skills in hopes of being hired by Google.

Earlier this week we looked at how data centers have boosted the fortunes of the small town of Quincy, Washington. This week NPR is examining another small town that provides a window into the potential of data centers as an economic development tool, and the challenges faced by local residents hoping to win high-paying jobs at these facilities. 

NPR's Frank Langfitt looks at the changing fortunes of Lenoir, North Carolina, a town in Caldwell County which is perhaps best known as the home of a $600 million data center for Google. Google's arrival in 2007 was hailed as a transformative event for Lenoir, which was once known as the "Furniture Capital of the South" but has seen two-thirds of its furniture workers lose their jobs as the industry shifted production to China.   

Can former furniture workers find jobs at Google? Many Lenoir residents have gone back to school at the local community college to learn IT skills in hopes of being hired by Google. You can listen to the first installment of the three-part series on the NPR web site.  The series will continue this week on NPR's evening news program, All Things Considered.

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