Google Pumps $400 Million More into Iowa, Investment Now Tops $1.5 Billion

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An overhead view of the server infrastructure in Google’s data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. (Photo: Connie Zhou for Google)

The data center building boom continues to accelerate at Google. The search giant today announced plans to invest another $400 million in its Council Bluffs Southlands facility, pushing the investment in its Iowa facilities to more than $1.5 billion. The announcement comes the same day that Facebook has confirmed plans to build a major data center in Altoona, making it a giddy day for Iowans.

Google spent $600 million to build the initial phase of capacity in Council Bluffs, followed by phased expansion investments of $300 million, $200 million and now an additional $400 million. Total: $1.5 billion. Let that sink in.

The data center houses some of the infrastructure behind Google search, Gmail, Google Maps and the Google+ social network. “Google has not only invested heavily in Iowa, they’ve helped to create an atmosphere of high tech development that is the envy of the Midwest,” said Lt Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Need for Growth

“Our commitment to Council Bluffs and Iowa grows stronger each day,” Google Data Center Operations Manager Chris Russell said. “As demand for our services grows, our operations need to grow as well. We’re excited to be an integral part of Iowa’s expansion into next generation technology.”

The company is spending like crazy on its infrastructure, and had made Council Bluffs the focus of continued rounds of investment.

“Google has again put Council Bluffs at the center of high tech development in Iowa with this $400 million investment in the next phase of their growth and development south of the City,” said Council Bluffs Chamber President and CEO Bob Mundt. “They’ve also been a tremendous corporate citizen, supporting our local schools, colleges, the Chamber and the City of Council Bluffs. Google’s continued expansion in Council Bluffs is a strong vote of confidence in Iowa and the Council Bluffs region as a major player in the ever expanding technology sector.”

Continued Investments in Renewable Energy

Google reaffirmed its commitment to renewable energy. In 2010, as a measure to reduce its carbon footprint in Iowa, the company entered into a long term agreement to purchase 114 megawatts of wind energy produced by a wind farm in Story County. Google has also made investments to help accelerate the wind power industry in the state; in 2012 the company invested $75 million in a 50 megawatt wind farm in Rippey, Iowa developed by RPM Access.

The commitment to renewable energy extends beyond its own needs. It’s working with its utility partners to develop solutions for large electricity consumers that want to increase use of renewable energy by basically sharing information and outlining how it’s doing it; the company states it looks forward to developing similar solutions in Iowa.

Google’s investment in Iowa goes beyond servers and data centers, as the company has focused on being a good neighbor and engaged in the local community. Some examples:

  • Sponsored the 2012 Iowa State Fair
  • Sponsored 52 free “Iowa! Get Your Business Online!” events for Iowa small businesses wanting to establish sales in the digital marketplace.
  • It Became a key proponent of the Governor’s Iowa STEM initiatives, and has extended over $600,000 in educational grants for science and technology efforts.
  • Established the 2012 Caucus Hangout and Media Center for Iowa’s First in the Nation caucuses
  • Launched its Google for Veterans efforts in Iowa.
  • This summer, Google will offer free Wi-Fi during RAGBRAI, a first for this iconic Iowa event.

Iowa is very happy about this continued investment. “Several years ago, state and local officials began a partnership to streamline our economic development efforts for the high tech industry, said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. “Those efforts paid off then with Google establishing a data center in Council Bluffs and today those efforts continue to bear fruit. Iowa is now at the epicenter for high tech development and our work on this front will continue to be a focus of my administration.”

About the Author

Jason Verge is an Editor/Industry Analyst on the Data Center Knowledge team with a strong background in the data center and Web hosting industries. In the past he’s covered all things Internet Infrastructure, including cloud (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS), mass market hosting, managed hosting, enterprise IT spending trends and M&A. He writes about a range of topics at DCK, with an emphasis on cloud hosting.

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2 Comments

  1. fran dieterle

    why Iowa ? are corp taxes more favorable? is there a "tech" work force?

  2. Hi Fran, Often cited reasons: educated workforce, reliable tax structure, and reasonable energy costs. Google also has a $75 million equity investment in a 50 megawatt wind farm in Rippey, Iowa, which will help Google offset the energy used by its data center campus in Council Bluffs.