Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Google Plans $600M Investment at Pryor

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Google Plans $600M Investment at Pryor

Article excerpt

Google's decision to plant a $600 million data center in Oklahoma points to a new growth sector for the Sooner State.

Amy Polonchek, executive director for the state Department of Commerce, said her agency has worked with a growing number of firms seeking to place server farms in Oklahoma.

That would mark a dramatic change in the state's technology sector, said industry leaders. Most of Oklahoma's data centers represent internal efforts by state companies such as Williams or BOK Financial. Much of the state's success in attracting technology firms has been in the call-center field, which carries a much lower investment.

Tulsa officials crowed last week over their second such announcement this year, a Gannett call center that intends to open this summer with about 200 jobs on its way to a potential 500 positions.

Polonchek said the Google center promises about 100 employees at first, with potential growth to 200 or more. But the Web information company estimates average salaries at $48,000 per year, almost double the Gannett center estimate, and Polonchek said the server farm requires a much higher initial investment.

While he would not comment on such potential, Google Director of Global Operations Lloyd Taylor said Oklahoma had the electrical, water, and land needs such facilities require.

Taylor said that Google has seen other companies follow its lead in choosing data center construction sites. Although Taylor could not discuss specifics about Google's facilities, he said the company has similar projects underway in Belgium, North and South Carolina, and Oregon.

"Oklahoma's a natural location," said Stan Chase, chief operating officer for Perimeter Technology of Oklahoma City, who said the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber also has fielded inquiries for server farm placement.

"It's in the middle of the country," said Chase of Oklahoma's advantages. "It's fiber-rich. We don't have the electrical problems. Electricity is relatively cheap and we have an abundance of electricity here.

"The cost of land, the cost of personnel, those sorts of things just lend themselves naturally as a place to put these type of server farms to maintain," he said. "They're also away from hurricanes, from earthquakes, and the rolling power outages that they have on the coasts."

Demands for readily available water, which Google will use for environmental systems, indicates the eastern half of Oklahoma may benefit more from the sector's expansion. But Chase said the potential remains great.

Taylor described Google's growing number of data centers as a worldwide network of buildings containing the computers that support its services. While the computers are often off-the-shelf caliber, the number and capacity accounts for the substantial investment and required resources.

For its Oklahoma base, the eight-year-old Internet company acquired an 84,200-square-foot building on 800 acres beside an airstrip in Pryor's MidAmerica Industrial Park. …

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