Want to look up something — as in virtually anything?
Want additional confirmation that the tri-county area’s economy is looking up?
Google that, too — or just read this editorial.
Google plans a $600 million expansion of its data-center operation in Berkeley County. The California-based Internet search colossus announced that coming upgrade at the facility Friday. The new investment matches the initial $600 million commitment Google made to come here in 2007.
Eric Wages, operations manager at the local Google facility, said: “When Google first announced plans to come to Berkeley County in 2007, we were attracted to not only the energy infrastructure, developable land and available workforce, but also the extraordinary team from the local community that made us feel welcome. Today’s announcement is just a continuation of our investment in the state. Google is proud to call Berkeley County home.”
And Berkeley County is happy to have Google here. South Carolina, too.
This news extends an encouraging trend throughout our state. South Carolina’s unemployment rate ended 2012 at 8.4 percent, which though still too high, was a considerable improvement over our 9.6 percent jobless level at the end of 2011.
Our community is a major part of that positive path — and has lower unemployment numbers than the overall state rate: Berkeley County (7.6 percent last month vs. 8.6 percent in December 2011); Charleston County (6.9 percent vs. 7.4 percent), Dorchester County (7.1 percent vs. 7.5 percent).
Google’s latest $600 million contribution to S.C. job growth is the largest in the state since last April, when Greenville-based Michelin North America revealed plans to build a $750 million tire plant in Anderson County.
Though Google officials haven’t provided an estimate of how many new jobs its Berkeley County expansion will bring, they have said it will require facilities managers, network engineers, computer technicians and security personnel. The company also revealed, for the first time, that approximately 150 people already work at the two data-center buildings that are already up and running at the site.
Gov. Nikki Haley attended Friday’s announcement. She cited this state-provided incentive for Google to grow here: Last year, the General Assembly approved, and she signed, legislation giving data centers tax breaks on electricity use and purchases of computer hardware and software.
The governor also proclaimed: “So this Googler, along with every Googler across this state, should be proud. Remember that every time we jump on that computer, it happens because of places like this.”
And remember that every time another world-class business expands its operations in our community and state, our economic prospects jump, too.