Google investment in Pryor reaches $3 billion with new expansion

 PRYOR — In the Google data center lobby sits a mechanical bull to which CEO Sundar Pichai attaches symbolism.  “It requires good positioning, strong balance and, sometimes, digging in your heels — kind of like my day job,” he said.  Google again has dug in its heels in Pryor.

An estimated crowd of 150 people turned out Thursday to watch the California-based internet services firm announce a $600 million expansion of its data center at the MidAmerica Industrial Park, pushing to $3 billion its total investment in Mayes County.  The project, which increases its staff by 100 in Pryor, is part of Google’s $13 billion investment to expand data centers across the United States.  Also Thursday, Pichai announced a $6 million grant to the National 4-H Council to support computer science education in its Oklahoma and national chapters.  “For 21 years, we have pursued a timeless mission, to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” Pichai said. “In that time, we have evolved from a company that helps people find answers to a company that helps people throughout their day. Today, you are part of an effort to build a more helpful Google for everyone.”

Best-known for its vastly popular search engine, Google opened its campus at the MidAmerica Industrial Park near Pryor in 2011.  Google announced plans for the Oklahoma data center in 2007 and opened the initial $600 million facility four years later. It subsequently expanded the center in 2012, 2016 and 2018.  “The state of Oklahoma and Mayes County and Pryor have just welcomed us with open arms,” said Andrew Silvestri, head of public policy and community development for Google data centers in the Americas. “Our community partners, our elected leaders, as well as just the spirit of this state and our talent base, have made it just an easy process to continue to expand and deepen our roots here in the state.  “We’ve called Oklahoma home for over a decade. You will see us continue to grow in significant ways over the next several years and beyond.”  Google’s complex in Mayes County employs at least 500 and is the company’s second largest in the world, trailing only the one in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Silvestri said.  “I can’t underscore enough the importance that we continue to be a business-friendly state, continue to develop and train our workforce,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said. “…That’s the reason these companies continue to invest and grow in our great state.  “I believe when we get these technology clusters in our state, they are going to continue to grow and there will be more and more investments and more and more opportunities for all of our citizens.” Larry Lees is Pryor’s mayor.  Since Google’s arrival in Mayes County, “it has re-invested in local communities in many ways, including free public wifi in our downtown, STEM and art programs for our students, technology infrastructure for higher education, training for our small businesses, teachers and nonprofits, technology and mentors for our classrooms,” he said.  “Most significantly, our students with our schools are completely off state funding because of the rapid increase through our property values. Thank you, Google.”