Google quietly makes strong fiscal impact on Douglas County

by: John Bachman Updated:

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DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News has discovered a secretive industry is having a huge impact on Douglas County. 

Channel 2's John Bachman saw photos of Google's high security data center online, and discovered millions of dollars are flowing into the county because of the facility.

Bachman said data centers are understandably security sensitive.  He said Google searches, and millions of other online searches, likely come through the Douglas County facility.  He said the company is slowly opening up about its operation.  Only now, years later, the company recently put a sign out front.

"For a long time you couldn't mention the company being here," Douglas County's Development Authority Director Chris Pumphrey said.

Bachman said Pumphrey still can't say, "Google," and neither can Lisa Ward, a developer with Atlanta-based company IDI.

"It's very quiet. Most data centers don't want you to know where their mission critical facilities are. So it's a little bit of a hidden gem," Ward said.

However, both Ward and Pumphrey said Google started an industry boom in southeast Douglas County.  Several companies have followed Google's lead.

Ward said there are several reasons companies are putting these facilities in Douglas County. 

"Power in this area runs about a third of what you would see in the northeast," she said.

She said power is 70 to 80 percent of a data center's cost.  Ward said there's also plenty of water and fiber optic capacity.  Additionally, Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest airport, is just 25 minutes away.

"We've seen over $ 350 million of industrial tax revenue come into Douglas County, just based on this area right here," Pumphrey said.

That's in the last seven years.  It isn't just tax money, it's also jobs.  The data center industry has created 350 jobs in this corridor, and developers say this is just the beginning.

"We've got about 30 active projects close to closing or early on in search stage," Pumphrey said.