With the completion of another phase of construction at its Council Bluffs Southlands campus, Google’s said Tuesday it’s investment in the city has hit $5 billion.
The Google data center in Council Bluffs is one of its largest facilities and has created jobs for more than 900 people in a variety of full-time and external supplier roles, including computer technicians, engineers and various food services, maintenance and security roles, according to a press release from the company.
The company opened its first Council Bluffs facility in 2009 along Veterans Memorial Highway and its second in 2013 on 957 acres of land south of the city along Bunge Avenue just north of the Bunge North America plant.
Google said it has established a long-term commitment to the state and has continued to live its mission of organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible by all, through support of projects and initiatives that help bridge the digital divide. Internet accessibility is a priority for Google in home communities like Council Bluffs, and Google was a key partner in the effort to bring the BLink community Wi-Fi network online for Council Bluffs.
“Google’s $5 billion of capital investment represents an unprecedented financial commitment within the entire metropolitan area that is, by itself, staggering,” Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh said in the release. “However, financial expenditure doesn’t truly quantify what having a partner like Google has meant to Council Bluffs over these past 15 years. During that time frame, Google has regularly contributed to the education of our students, helped our local businesses bring their goods and services to market by teaching them ways to establish their own Google Business Profile, and they regularly serve as a contributing partner toward BLink, the city’s free Wi-Fi network. Through these and many other ways, Google has helped to turn Council Bluffs into a hub for technology, innovation and opportunity.”
Thanks to Google and other partners, Council Bluffs was named 2021 Technology Community of the Year by the Technology Association of Iowa.
“The BLink Wi-Fi project continues to demonstrate the effectiveness and value of public-private partnerships,” Walsh said during the Prometheus Awards Ceremony on Nov. 4, 2021. “Thanks to the relationship with Google, Council Bluffs Community School District and the Iowa West Foundation, BLink is possible. The BLink coverage area will reach 20 square miles at project completion, providing Wi-Fi access to more than 40,000 people.”
Since 2009, Google has awarded more than $3 million to local schools and nonprofit organizations, including (for) efforts to expand computer science education and upskilling Iowans to help grow their careers and expand their businesses, the release stated.
Just since the pandemic arrived, the company has donated $50,000 to the Southwest Iowa COVID-19 Response Fund, $50,000 to MICAH House, $30,000 to the Council Bluffs Schools Foundation Classroom Grants program, $60,000 to the Iowa Governor’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Advisory Council for its Iowa STEM Teacher Externships program, $25,000 to Pottawattamie Arts, Culture & Entertainment for equipment to capture artistic content and post it online and $25,000 to Trees Forever, according to past Nonpareil articles. During the pandemic, Google has contributed more than $20 million in employee donations and company matches to food banks and pantries around the world.
“For more than a decade now, Google has been a partner in education innovation,” said Dr. Vickie Murillo, superintendent of the Council Bluffs Community School District. “Google has made a lasting impact on our school community in a variety of ways, from the gift of 500 early-edition Chromebooks in a pilot phase to the company’s critical support of the free community Wi-Fi network to grants for equipment and training — and even sweat equity through volunteerism.”
Throughout Iowa, 163,000 Iowa businesses have connected with their customers through Google, and Grow with Google has partnered with more than 160 organizations in the state to train tens of thousands of Iowans on digital skills, including public libraries, chambers of commerce and more, the press release stated. Google has also supported STEM learning for 1K-plus Iowa students through hands-on learning opportunities like the Anti-Gravity Games and CS First coding events. Google has also helped sponsor business and entrepreneurial events and training.
“The Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce is so appreciative of Google and their continued capital investment and job creation in the Council Bluffs community,” said Drew Kamp, president and CEO of the Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce. “We are extremely fortunate to have them in Council Bluffs and proud to be the home of one of Google’s largest global data centers. Google is an exemplary corporate citizen and always comes to the table as a willing partner that will do everything they can to move the community forward for the collective good.”
Last year alone, 11,000 businesses, nonprofits, publishers, creators and developers helped generate $1.5 billion of economic activity for Iowa using Google’s products and services.
“Google is proud to call Iowa home, and this continued level of investment in our data center facilities underscores our long-term commitment to the state and strong desire to be an active member of this community,” said Ryan Ackels, site lead at Google’s data center in Council Bluffs.
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