Bluffs, Google a good match – Omaha World

November 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Wind Energy Tips

Council Bluffs and its leaders deserve a lot of credit for building the kind of community that encourages business, as shown by the $200 million expansion of online giant Google’s already sizable presence in the city.

Combined with its $600 million data center near Lake Manawa that opened in 2009 and its $300 million data center still under construction east of the MidAmerican Energy plant, the fast-growing business will have a total investment in the Bluffs of some $1.1 billion.

The data centers house computers that run Google services such as Gmail, the Google Internet search engine and Google+ social network.

Besides the data centers, Google this month announced it is investing $75 million in a wind-energy farm being developed near Rippey, Iowa, northwest of Des Moines. While the Bluffs data centers won’t get energy directly from the wind farm, the company has indicated that its own high electricity demand is one reason for backing alternative, less-polluting energy production methods such as wind farms.

In striving to reach its goal of becoming carbon-neutral, the company said it builds some of the world’s most energy-efficient data centers. In 2010, the company also agreed to a long-term contract to buy energy from a wind farm in Story County, Iowa.

In addition to the tech company’s own growing number of employees, Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan has noted that Google’s investments in his city also bring jobs for other workers, including plumbers, millwrights and electricians.

The company’s initial decision to locate a facility in Council Bluffs and its subsequent decisions to expand all speak well of the city and the state.

Gov. Terry Branstad cited a number of his state’s strengths in explaining Iowa’s attraction. They include an “educated work force, reliable tax structure and reasonable energy costs,” the governor said.

Those attributes all are present in Council Bluffs and were cited by Google officials last spring as they announced the $300 million data center and hinted at more development to come.

“This is definitely an attractive place,” Google’s Chris Russell, operations manager for the Council Bluffs data center, said back in April. “But what really tips the scales is having a state and community willing to work with us to create a good business environment and to allow us to work at Google speed.”

It likely won’t be the last we hear about Council Bluffs, either. As Iowa Economic Development Authority director Debi Durham put it: “When Google comes to town, the world takes notice.”

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