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Google to build $1 billion data center in Kansas City area. Here’s where, how many jobs

Google to build $1 billion data center in Kansas City area. Here’s where, how many jobs
Google unveiled plans for a sprawling data center in Kansas City’s Northland on Wednesday, a $1 billion investment the company said would help drive its artificial intelligence efforts.

The project, planned for just east of Worlds of Fun, marks Google’s first data center in Missouri. Heavy equipment was already moving dirt on the site on Wednesday.

The site is expected to generate upwards of 1,000 construction jobs, officials said. Monique Picou, Google’s global vice president of cloud supply chain and operations, told reporters that the “halo of jobs” connected to the data center — including employees employed at the center itself, logistics and warehousing operations — will total more than 1,400.

“AI is the future,” Picou said at an announcement event at a warehouse near the site in Clay County that drew dozens of civic and business leaders. Google, she said, “wants to be good for all of you.”

The data center will play an essential role in supporting the company’s AI innovations and growing its cloud business, Google said. The data centers help power its digital services like Google Cloud, Workspace, Search and Maps for its worldwide users.

In a statement, Picou said an important “inflection point” has been reached for tech innovation like AI, with data centers serving as the “backbone of this progress.”

What, if any, public incentives Google has already secured for the project wasn’t immediately clear. No specific incentives were named during the announcement. A spokesman for Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Google is receiving no direct incentives from the state “at this time.”

Still, Tracey Lewis, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, during remarks at the event thanked elected officials who are appreciative of economic development experts who help find and apply incentives. “These incentives, this collaborative nature is kind of what makes us move forward and we’re excited about that,” Lewis said.

Google’s decision to locate its new data center campus at Hunt Midwest Business Center was the culmination of a long-term vision and teamwork involving various players, Ora Reynolds, president and CEO of Hunt Midwest, said in a statement. “Ten years ago, the Missouri legislature created economic development programs designed to give the state the tools to compete for valuable data center projects,” Reynolds said.

In 2015, then-Gov. Jay Nixon signed into law a bill providing a state and local sales tax exemption for equipment, machinery and utilities used in data centers. Data centers can also claim tax exemption for the purchase of construction materials and personal property.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas thanked lawmakers “who did important work to ensure we have good tools to attract companies like this one.”

“Google, thank you for being part of our story and thank you for letting us be a part of yours,” Lucas said.

Dignitaries pose for photos after an announcement that Google will build a $1 billion data center in Kansas City.
Dignitaries pose for photos after an announcement that Google will build a $1 billion data center in Kansas City.

Parson and other officials cast the data center as a long time coming and the result of years of progress. “If you don’t build the infrastructure in our state, these businesses will not come,” Parson said, noting the emphasis he has placed on infrastructure during his time in office.

Google will work with Evergy to power the site and Ranger Power and D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments to bring 400 megawatts of new carbon-free energy to the grid as part of the company’s goal to run on carbon-free energy. Data centers have faced criticism for their large demand for electricity.

The global technology giant plans to expand its free Skilled Trades and Readiness (STAR) program to the region and contribute more than $100,000 to the North Kansas City School District’s alternative education STEAM center, which teaches science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

It’s estimated that more than 65% of young people today will work in jobs that don’t exist yet, according to Google. Many are not developing the skills and digital competencies required for the future jobs. Google will help bridge the gap by providing more than $100,000 to the district’s STEAM center.

By collaborating with Google, students at North Kansas City Schools will benefit, said Superintendent Rochel Daniels.

“Our collaboration will expand students’ access to innovative learning experiences by further leveraging technology and connecting student interests to real-world issues. We are grateful for this opportunity and look forward to a continued relationship with Google,” Daniels said in a statement.

The Missouri Works Initiative and the Urban League will collaborate with Google to help increase the pool of candidates for entry-level positions in the skilled trades with a focus on underrepresented communities. All STAR pre-employment programs are paid training programs, and offer networking opportunities to help participants move directly into employment on local construction projects.

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