MONCKS CORNER — Google Inc. announced Friday it would invest another $600 million in its Berkeley County data center, doubling the Internet giant’s investment in South Carolina.
“I’m a proud governor today, but I’m also a proud Googler,” Gov. Nikki Haley told about 100 local elected officials and business people at a groundbreaking ceremony on a windy field at the company’s campus south of Moncks Corner.
The company launched the campus with a $600 million investment six years ago.
“Let me be clear to people across South Carolina: Google has now invested $1.2 billion in the best state in the country,” the governor said, adding “$600 million is one thing. And additional $600 million is an absolute celebration.”
The company still does not have any imminent plans for a nearly 500-acre site it bought in 2007 in Blythewood for a potential data center, a company spokesman said.
In late 2011, Richland County Council extended a fee agreement granting the company three more years to start a project there. Unless there is another extension, the company would need to build something by the end of next year to reap incentives from the county.
Google, for proprietary reasons, did not say exactly what the Lowcountry expansion would do or how many additional people would be employed. But Eric Wages, Google’s data center operations manager, said that construction would begin shortly.
Haley joined Wages and local officials in using brightly colored shovels to turn the first dirt for the expansion.
With its initial $600 million investment, the company built two data center buildings on the campus. The second came on line recently and currently about 150 people are employed at the South Carolina site.
The data centers include large banks of computer servers that process everything from Internet searches to email, inquiries to Google maps, YouTube videos and other services.
Wages said Google would be advertising for candidates for the new jobs, and hiring workers with backgrounds in everything from engineering and data networks to security and facilities management.
Haley said having companies ranging from BMW to Boeing and Michelin to Google are a selling point for South Carolina and help to attract other major companies, and the jobs they bring.
She credited Google with also being a company that gives back to the state.
In the past six years, Google has donated more than $900,000 to local schools and help put in a free Wi-Fi network in nearby Goose Creek.