Google invests in $300M expansion of Douglas County data center

Search engine giant Google announced Tuesday it will expand its operations in Douglas County, an investment of $300 million that will create 25 new jobs. But company officials hinted an even greater infusion of cash could be in the works.

Google plans to build the expansion adjacent to its sprawling data center in Lithia Springs, one of 13 Google data centers dotted around the globe. The construction will begin this summer and will be completed by 2016.

Jason Wellman, Google’s data center operations manager, said the company is exploring an even larger expansion, but he stressed that there are no solid plans to do so yet.

Data centers like the one that Google operates here are home to the computing clouds packed with photos, emails, personal information and other data. These vast complexes are kept meticulously clean, and temperature and humidity are ruthlessly controlled by intricate networks of power substations and cooling tanks that keep everything humming.

Analysts say Atlanta is becoming one of the fastest-growing markets for these types of buildings, thanks partly to the state’s relatively cheap electricity, central location and tech know-how. That is only likely to grow as the demand for cloud computing expands.

The centers often provide relatively few full-time jobs - though Google says this facility employs 350 workers - but Gov. Nathan Deal said they have an outsized impact on Georgia’s economy. He called it “one of the magic ingredients” that help lure firms to Georgia.

“Increasingly, as I talk to economic development prospects, they cite the availability of high-speed Internet in the metro Atlanta region,” said Deal, who was on hand for the announcement. “Having that capacity makes it possible.”

The expansion is Google's latest large-scale investment in Georgia. Google announced in January it would bring gigabit-per-second service - which is 100 times faster than the average U.S. residential connection - to nine metro Atlanta cities.