Google CEO Sundar Pichai visited the company’s data center in Pryor, Oklahoma, on Thursday to announce plans to invest $600 million to expand its presence in the city. In the process, Google says it will create 100 more jobs and support local schools.
Google began construction on the data center in 2007 and opened it in 2011. It currently has more than 400 full-time employees, whose work helps keep popular services like Gmail, YouTube and Google’s search engine operational, according to the company.
“This is one of our largest data centers,” Pichai said in an exclusive interview with CNN Business’ Poppy Harlow while walking through the facility. “All the searches you do, when you find driving directions in maps, we make all of that happen through data centers like these.”
In the interview, Pichai said Google’s investment has “had a real impact” on this Oklahoma community. “It attracts more investment and it drives a set of things around the community which creates a virtuous cycle,” he said.
Google is also planning to announce an expansion in Texas soon.
The moves are part of a broader investment, announced in February, to expand Google’s physical presence throughout the US and ultimately boost hiring. Google previously said it planned to invest $13 billion in data centers and offices in more than a dozen US states this year, which he claimed would pave the way for hiring tens of thousands of employees.
It represents a striking new trend for the Silicon Valley company. “Last year was the first year when we added more people outside of California than within California,” Pichai told CNN Business. And while some companies like Amazon are weighing second headquarters outside the Bay Area, Pichai says Google prefers to take a more “distributed” approach, with offices and operations sprinkled around the country.
“This national expansion comes at a significant moment for Google,” Pichai said in his remarks Thursday. “For 21 years we’ve pursued a timeless mission: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. In that time, we’ve evolved from a company that helps people find answers to a company that helps people throughout their day.”
The political pressure on Silicon Valley has only ratcheted up in recent weeks.