Google has announced its 2020 expansion plans, which will build its footprint in 11 US states. The company has pledged to invest “more than $10 billion” in offices and data centers in California, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington.
Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post that “these investments will create thousands of jobs—including roles within Google, construction jobs in data center and renewable energy facilities, and opportunities in local businesses in surrounding towns and communities.”
The portfolio is not as ambitious as last year’s plan, in which Google pledged $13 billion and vowed to expand to rural areas in states like Nebraska, Nevada, and Oklahoma. This year, Google seems to be mostly focusing on projects it’s already started. Pichai notes that the company is expanding offices or continuing previous expansions in a number of regions, from data centers in Nebraska and Oklahoma to the Cloud Campus in Seattle.
Google plans to open its new Hudson Square Campus in New York City this year as well as a new operations center in Mississippi and a new data center in Iowa. The company will also open a “major development” in Kirkland, Washington, later this year, and its massive office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is still “under development.”
“Everywhere we invest, we strive to create meaningful opportunities for local communities,” Pichai wrote. “A powerful example is our data center in Pryor a town in Mayes County, Oklahoma...Google’s investments have helped provide local schools with the resources they need — including the latest textbooks and STEM courses — to offer a world-class education.”
Last summer, Google pledged to invest $1 billion in new housing in the Bay Area, work that it claims will accelerate in 2020.
Such a US-heavy investment plan is certainly a diplomatic move for Google, as the US manufacturing sector sheds jobs and concerns about outsourcing and automation grow. Still, there are several questions that the company doesn’t address in its announcement.
For example, Pichai thanks “partners and communities” at the end of his blog post, but there’s no mention of potential tax incentives — a source of the controversy that ultimately killed Amazon’s Long Island City campus. And development that hinges on a company’s cooperation can backfire, as the Mountain View City Council learned a few years ago when Google threatened to block a massive housing project if it wasn’t given 800,000 additional square feet of office space.
New jobs are well and good, but it’s important to remember that projects like these are investments, not philanthropy.