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Google announces plans to invest $1.7 billion in a trio of Central Ohio data centers




Lt. Gov. Jon Husted speaking at Google’s New Albany data center. (Photo by Nick Evans for OCJ.)

In New Albany Monday, two of Ohio’s congressmen joined Lt. Gov. Jon Husted to announce the expansion of Google’s footprint in the area. Between data centers in New Albany Columbus and Lancaster, the search giant plans to invest $1.7 billion this year in technical infrastructure in Ohio.

The initiative only adds to a boom in Central Ohio tech investment following announcement of an Intel semiconductor fab nearby.

“Ohio is establishing itself as a premier destination for technology investment,” Husted bragged, “and it further strengthens our case that Ohio is becoming the tech capital of the Midwest.”

Internet infrastructure

Google first broke ground on its New Albany data center in late 2019. At the time, the facility represented a $600 million investment. The sprawling campus sits on a massive parcel just south of Ohio Rt. 161, neighboring similarly massive tech facilities. Next door is an Amazon fulfillment center. Meta’s data center is right across the street.

The facility’s size and scope is arresting. From the street, the first thing you see are half a dozen large silos that house water to cool the servers. Stretching off behind them sits a line of garage-sized cooling units. The building itself is a concrete behemoth. The website Baxtel, which tracks data centers, puts the square footage at 275,000. Through a spokeswoman, Google declined to share the building’s size.

“I can’t break it down by facility,” Google Vice President of public policy Mark Isakowitz explained, “but I do know that our land footprint in Ohio is over 600 acres.”

The New Albany location alone accounts for more than 400 of those acres.

Isakowitz explained the Lancaster data center will open later this year, and the Columbus facility — on the far south side near Scioto Downs — opened earlier this month. The $1.7 billion announced Monday will mean further improvements at all three data centers, but he declined to elaborate on how the funding breaks down by facility.

“You can see even on this property, where we are now, where it’s already operational, we’re still building on this property,” Isakowitz said. “There is more to do, and there’s a lot to do.”

He explained developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning bring new demands for computing power, and thus more traffic for data centers.

Tech hub of the Midwest?

Lt. Gov. Husted argued Google’s investment tells the rest of the world that “Ohio is the tech hub of the Midwest.”

“This is more evidence, more proof that that’s indeed what we have become, and we intend to keep it that way,” he added.

Husted touted Ohio’s growth in next generation manufacturing for cars, batteries and semiconductors, as well the TechCred job training initiative he has championed in office. According to Isakowitz, during construction, the data centers employ about 1,200. After that, their permanent staff is about 200 employees.

Republican Ohio U.S. Rep. Troy Balderson argued the combined impact of those industries will transform Ohio’s employment outlook.

“The next generation will no longer have to pack up and move to one of the coastal states to land a high paying tech job,” Balderson said. “Instead, Ohio will be their new opportunity.”

Republican Ohio U.S. Rep. Mike Carey compared recent tech investments to Honda’s decision to set up shop outside of Marysville in the early 1980s. He emphasized how that kind of investment can create jobs directly but also indirectly through “spin off jobs” that supply and support work at the plant.

This story was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.

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