Google picks Durham for engineering hub, aims to create 1,000 jobs

Published March 18, 2021

DURHAM – Internet giant Google will create an engineering hub focused on cloud computing in Durham that, over time, will create 1,000 jobs, the company announced early Thursday.

“Today is an exciting day for Google Cloud in North Carolina. We help businesses and organizations digitally transform, and to meet this challenge, we need the most talented team possible, and the Triangle region has some of the best and brightest engineers in the world,” said Marian Croak, vice president of engineering for Google. “We look forward to partnering closely with the local community as we expand our presence in this new engineering site.”

The center will be built in downtown Durham through a sublease of space from Duke University at 200 W. Morris St., in the Durham Innovation District. The company plans to start moving in in May and is evaluating “several locations for its eventual permanent home.”

The Innovation District, also known as Durham.ID, is a 14-acre project downtown that combines lab and office space with housing, retail and open space.

“To have someone like Google here in our Innovation District is exactly, I mean, it’s just really great for the entire city and so exciting for all of us,” said Jessica Brock, a partner in Longfellow Real Estate, which is developing the project.

“We would love for them to make Durham.ID their permanent home, and we have lots of options for them, but I think what is most important is that they are here, and they are in our community, and they’re going to be hiring our talent and making this one of their major hubs,” Brock said.

A spokesperson for Duke said the university had worked with Google on the project for several months.

“We’re fortunate at Duke because we have a longstanding relationship with Google in many facets of their business, but having them embedded here, I think, creates much more opportunity to create a talent pipeline between Duke and Google,” said Greg Victory, executive director of Duke Career Center.

North Carolina Central University also is eager for closer ties with Google, for both its graduates and its programs.

“This is an amazing opportunity for my students to be able to participate, for our students to get maybe internships and maybe jobs with Google,” said Donna Grant, chair of the Computer Information Systems Department in N.C. Central’s School of Business.

Google has a long-standing investment in North Carolina, dating back 16 years with one of its data centers in Caldwell County. It also has a software development office in Chapel Hill, and it works with American Underground (owned by WRAL News and WRAL TechWire corporate parent Capitol Broadcasting) in Durham as one of its startup-focused hubs.

“I would say welcome Google, but Google already has a strong presence in Durham,” Mayor Steve Schewel said.

The new operation will have nearly double the company’s current number of employees in the state.

“We believe that Google’s confidence in our regional market is going to have a magnetizing effect, and it’s going to accelerate those opportunities that are already created by this innovative ecosystem that we enjoy here,” said Geoff Durham, president and chief executive of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce.

Durham said he doesn’t fear that Google’s addition will drive local housing prices even higher and out of the reach of many.

“I really am very confident in our community, in Durham, and also specifically with this company, Google, that we will partner with them as it pertains to making sure we grow appropriately and to the inclusion of all in the community,” he said. “I think, by bringing Google in to our region, we really found someone who share our ideals in that regard.”

The North Carolina news is part of a $7 billion plan by Google to invest in growing its U.S. operations.

“I believe a lasting economic recovery will come from local communities, and the people and small businesses that give them life. Google wants to be a part of that recovery,” said Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google and its corporate parent, Alphabet. “That’s why we plan to invest over $7 billion in offices and data centers across the U.S. and create at least 10,000 new full-time Google jobs in the U.S. this year.”

Other Google operations across the South also are being expanded or added.

“We’re increasing our investment in our South Carolina data center, establishing our newest Cloud engineering site in Durham, North Carolina, and opening the first U.S. Google Operations Center in Southaven, Mississippi. In Virginia, we’ll open our new Reston office building and expand our Loudon County data center,” Pichai wrote in a blog post. “In Texas, the new data center in Midlothian is now operational, we’re opening our first Houston office and continue to invest in our campuses in Austin. We’re continuing to invest in our Atlanta campus as well.”

Cloud computing is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the internet economy, with Google among the most significant players. Competitors include IBM and Raleigh-based Red Hat, as well as Microsoft and Amazon Web Services.

Durham will be one of only five Google cloud hubs in the U.S., with others in New York, Washington state and California. The company said it selected Durham, in part, for “the region’s diverse, world-class talent.”

“I’ve called Durham home for decades and have long shared with my colleagues that there is something very special about this corner of the world that requires a closer look,” Google spokeswoman Lilyn Hester said during the announcement. “Google’s growth in the Triangle is a true expression of a shared commitment to innovation and community.”

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