Google announces plans to build data center in Nebraska; signs point to Omaha area

Google announces plans to build data center in Nebraska; signs point to Omaha area
Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Omaha’s growing sector of data centers will add a major name to its ranks now that Google has announced plans to bring a data center to the state.

A map on the tech giant’s website indicated the center will be in the Omaha area. The Nebraska facility was announced as part of a national expansion plan by Google, which will invest more than $13 billion in 2019 in data centers and offices across the country, according to a statement.

The company said those investments will allow Google to hire tens of thousands of employees and create more than 10,000 new construction jobs in Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

It isn’t clear where in the Omaha area Google will build its Nebraska data center, but wherever the facility lands, it will be among good company: Fidelity, Yahoo, Cabela’s and Travelers insurance all have constructed data centers in Sarpy County in recent years.

A 275-acre tract of land in the county near Highway 50 and Schram Road is poised to get a new data center. It isn’t clear whether Google could be locating its center on that site.

Officials have stayed quiet on which company is behind the curtain of the mysteriously titled Project Wizard. David Black, mayor of Papillion, told The World-Herald in December, “Anyone doing a data center of this size is going to be a well-known company to anybody.”

Black on Wednesday acknowledged that the City of Papillion has been working with Google but declined to speculate on the company’s plans. He praised the economic benefits he said the state will see by attracting such a company.

“Their capital investment and just the impact they have on the local communities is a lot bigger than what people think,” he said.

Black declined to comment on whether the company is behind Project Wizard.

In response to questions from The World-Herald about the cost of the project, a construction timeline and whether Sarpy County is indeed the location for the new data center, a Google spokeswoman said the company had nothing to add beyond what CEO Sundar Pichai outlined in a blog post Wednesday. (He didn’t disclose the site .)

Andrew Rainbolt, executive director of the Sarpy County Economic Development Corp., declined to answer questions about whether Google is attached to Project Wizard. “We’ve been working with them and we’ll continue to work with them,” Rainbolt said. “We’re excited for their investment in the state.”

Google also has two data centers in Council Bluffs, one near Lake Manawa that opened in 2009 and the Southlands facility that opened in 2013.

In a prepared statement, Gov. Pete Ricketts praised Google’s investment.

“Nebraska has built a reputation for itself as the Silicon Prairie and a hub for tech companies, start ups, and entrepreneurs,” Ricketts wrote. “Today’s announcement from Google underscores that reputation and will bring great opportunities for Nebraskans. We appreciate the work of all the partners who teamed up to successfully promote Nebraska as the destination for Google’s next investment.”

Dee Baird, senior vice president of the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership, said she is looking forward to Google’s future in the state.

“The diversification of Google’s infrastructure in Nebraska further solidifies their presence in the region, and supports the organization’s ongoing pledge to ‘organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,’ ” Baird said in a statement.