January 17, 2013

Google To Make ?Major Announcement? At Berkeley Co. Data Center Friday morning

Brendan Kearney  /  Post and Courier

More than five years after disclosing plans to invest $600 million in Berkeley County, Internet search giant Google is promising another "major announcement" at its site.

Gov. Nikki Haley and local officials will gather at the company's data center off U.S. Highway 52 this morning for an invitation-only event. Google provided no further details. A statement from the governor's office described the event only as "an economic development announcement."

A company spokesman said it is "related to" and "connected to" the data center complex between Goose Creek and Moncks Corner.

Google opened the first data center on the 500-acre site in Mount Holly Commerce Park in 2008 and had said it would build and open another one next door in 2012 as part of a combined $600 million investment.

But that hadn't happened by November when Joe Kava, Google's senior director of data-center construction and operations, spoke to local media outlets as part of a campaign to lift the veil on the company's secretive server farms.

He said then that all of the heavy construction work would be done by the end of 2012, but full deployment won't happen until this year. Kava also hinted there could be further expansion down the road, as the need for data storage grows.

"We do have a lot of flat open space there, which makes it a great site for continued growth," he told The Post and Courier two months ago. "When we invest a lot of energy in finding the next Google data center campus, we want this to be something we can count on for a long time."

Conversations between company and state officials began in fall 2005.

A company linked to Google bought the more than 500 acres off U.S. Highway 52 for $17 million in December 2006. Around the same time, another Google-linked company bought another big chunk of land –- 466 acres –- just north of Columbia, a site that remains idle.

In April 2007, the company announced it was building a data center complex there in Berkeley County, with the major attractions being the cheap water and power.

The state sweetened the deal with incentives if Google met job targets, but the company did not accept them on schedule. Google has not revealed how many people work at the complex for competitive reasons. A Google spokeswoman could not say Thursday how much of the pledged $600 million investment has been made in the site.

Google has been more open in sharing its tech savvy and money with the local community. The company has hosted training events for local small businesses and nonprofits and sponsored free wireless Internet in part of Goose Creek and in Marion Square in downtown Charleston.

Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906 and follow him on Twitter at @kearney_brendan.