4/24/2018 – Oxford Economics study reveals Google’s positive impacts on Caldwell County

Posted on: April 26th, 2018 by admin


April 24, 2018


By Virginia Annable
(Lenoir) News-Topic


Google’s data centers, including the one in Lenoir, boost both their local and state economies and have effects beyond just jobs at the centers, a recent study commissioned by Google found.


The Oxford Economics study looked at the impact of Google’s six data centers in the states and counties they inhabit. The study holds up Caldwell County as a poster child for a data center helping a community gain greater economic diversity.


The Lenoir data center opened in 2008, when the unemployment rate was rising sharply from a combination of furniture industry contraction and the national Great Recession.


Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, said Google changed how industrial recruitment targets viewed Caldwell.


“Google put us on the map in term of proving we could host such a giant,” Murray said.


When potential companies consider moving to Caldwell County, they meet with Google representatives, she said.


“They want to know how Google did it … because if Google can be here (in Lenoir), then they can too,” Murray said.


In North Carolina, Google has invested $1.2 billion in the Lenoir data center, which employs 250 people at the data center and also, through ongoing construction projects, created the equivalent of 143 full-time construction jobs. The data center has directly and indirectly added 1,024 jobs and $61.3 million in income to the state, the report found.


The effects of Google on the county can also be seen in the makeup of Caldwell’s population, the report said.


Because Google came to Lenoir, more people with four-year degrees are moving to Caldwell, the study found.


Based on comparisons to similar counties without a data center, there are 1 percent more people — 620 more people— who hold four-year college degrees here that there would be had the data center not been built. The report found similar effects in Berkeley County, South Carolina, and Douglas County, Georgia, which gained 1,234 and 895 more people with four-year degrees, respectively.


“This finding suggests that for whatever reason, the counties hosting a Google data center quickly became more attractive locations for college-educated workers to buy homes or take up residence,” the report said.


Lenoir Mayor Joe Gibbons said having Google here shows Caldwell County’s younger generation there are high-level jobs right at home.


“It shows them there’s a reason to stick around, that there are all types of jobs, and jobs that have bigger salaries,” he said. “And it encourages them to get as high of an education as they want.”


Google is the biggest taxpayer in Lenoir and Caldwell County. Although the incentives package that was used to bring Google here greatly reduces the company’s property taxes, the company still paid about $6 million in property taxes to the city and county last year, and has paid a total of over $35 million since 2008.


Having that tax base allows the local governments to keep taxes lower and have more funding for improvement projects, Gibbons said.


“That’s something we’re excited about,” he said. “It’s a huge thing for the city.”


Google’s partnerships with the community have also played a big role in the company’s contributions, Gibbons said.


Since 2008, Google has started the Gravity Games, brought Wi-Fi to downtown Lenoir, paid for part of the Lenoir Greenway to expand, donated computer equipment to various schools, community centers and charities and brought Wi-Fi to school buses.


“It’s absolutely outstanding,” Gibbons said. “I think (having Google) has been even more than we could have imagined.”


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