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Google looks to build new data center in Tennessee

The new facility would repurpose failed industrial project site

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Google is looking to build a new data center in Tennessee on the site that Hemlock, a Dow-Corning subsidiary, launched a failed $1.2 billion polysilicon production facility that was announced to great fanfare with a promise of 500 jobs in the area, but which was shuttered before the plant was scheduled to open.

With renewable energy from the TVA and an existing on-site power substation, Google would invest $500 million in the creation of a data center facility on the site, once approval is received from the local planning authorities. The Clarkesville site is 50 miles from Nashville, where Google's Fiber division is planning on rolling out their high-speed networking infrastructure to support Google's Internet and TV services.

While a data center is likely to only offer 10 percent of the jobs promised by the former industrial facility plans, local expectation is that once Google invests in the site, other data center operators would soon follow, with the attraction of the renewable energy available from the TVA and potential tax breaks. Tennessee offers a sales tax exemption for data centers on hardware and software purchases for qualified data centers. The qualification requires a minimum investment of $250 million over at least 3 years (with possible extensions) and a guarantee of a minimum of 25 new jobs at 150 percent of the state average occupational wage.