A new result will populate when internet users enter Midlothian into a Google search: Home.
The tech giant officially welcomed itself to the Midlothian Community on Friday afternoon at the site of the first Google data center in Texas.
It is also just the 12th data center for Google to either construct or break ground on in the United States.
U.S. Congressman Ron Wright, U.S. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Midlothian Mayor Richard Reno, and other civic leaders were among those in attendance for the occasion that included a substantial surprise for Midlothian ISD.
"We have deep roots in Texas, and they are about to get deeper as we launch our first-ever Texas data center right here in Midlothian," said Andrew Silvestri, Google's head of public policy and community development, Americas, to the crowd gathered around a small stage.
Four multi-story cranes sat idle to greet the 100-plus in attendance, while several dozen construction crewmembers were either on looking from a distance or helping direct traffic to the ceremonial site.
A few feet to the left of the large white tent sat the iconic "Google" logo constructed out of wood and accented by the tech giant's familiar blue, red, yellow and green color scheme.
Under the tent was more of what someone would expect from a Google celebration — a laid-back, yet energetic atmosphere complete with food truck snacks, infused waters and trendy tech.
It was also beneath that tent that community leaders and media heard the official announcement of Google's $600 million commitment to the Midlothian and Ellis County communities.
The initial investment is up from the $500 million first announced in May 2018 during a Midlothian City Council meeting. At that time, Google was still operating under a shell company, Austin-based Sharka, LLC, which had previously purchased about 375 acres in the Railport Business Park in May 2017.
The Midlothian City Council and Ellis County commissioners' court have both since approved a 10-year tax abatement agreement with the tech giant.
Through the agreement, 100 percent of personal property and 85 percent of improvements would be eligible to be abated, as previously reported by the Daily Light. The exact monetary terms of that agreement have not yet been released to the public.
According to the tax abatement agreement and previous Daily Light report, Google had to invest a minimum of $500 million in its Midlothian facilities and employ a minimum of 40 full-time employees by the end of the fifth year of occupancy. The abatement is to begin Jan. 1 of the year following the City of Midlothian issuing a certificate of occupancy.
There is also no limit — outside of acreage — to the number of phases for the project and the abatement applies to all stages of the data center's expansion.
As of Friday afternoon, the construction of the first of the initially planned three data centers was well underway, marking a continued effort by Google to expand its footprint as it enters year 12 in Texas.
"Texas has been a booming force in the tech economy," Silvestri said. "Texas is a huge part of Google's story and we are very excited for Midlothian to be the next chapter in that story."
Three iPads just behind the check-in table and to the right of the full-service bar provided glimpses into one of the already completed Google data centers in operation.
According to a Google press release issued at the event, data centers "deliver key tool and resources to internet users, including search results, YouTube videos, Gmail and other apps to billions of people around the world."
The Midlothian facility is one of four to break ground in 2019, joining Henderson, Nevada; Papillion, Nebraska; and New Albany, Ohio.
Google data centers already in operation are located in Berkeley County, South Carolina; Council Bluffs, Iowa; Douglas County, Georgia; Jackson County, Alabama; Lenoir, North Carolina; Pryor, Oklahoma; Montgomery County, Tennessee; The Dalles, Oregon; Quilicura, Chile; Changhua County, Taiwan; Singapore; Dublin, Ireland; Eemshaven, Netherlands; Fredericia, Denmark; Hamina, Finland; and St. Ghislain, Belgium.
Silvestri acknowledged that data centers are not overly human intensive, but do "carry a lot of computing power and are really significant and high-tech facilities."
"If you look around the country at some the communities where we have been for the last 10 years, such as in Oklahoma where we just surpassed over 500 jobs or in Iowa where we are over 400, the jobs are there," Silvestri said. "But we have been there for a long time."
Google announced Thursday that it would invest an additional $600 million into the Oklahoma data center in Hays County — near Pryor — to bring its total investment over $3 billion, according to Tulsa World. The newest venture increases the staff by more than 100, pushing its total over 500 employees.
It is also part of Google's $13 billion investment to expand data centers across the United States, notes a Google press release.
The Iowa data center referenced Friday by Silvestri is located in Council Bluffs, which broke ground in 2013. The Omaha World-Herald reported that Google had invested more than $2.5 billion in the facility by 2015.
Silvestri explained that, as of Friday, Google leadership had not yet solidified the number of employees that will be employed following the completion of the first phase in Midlothian. He did note the company is currently hiring for various positions and "we will be hiring for the foreseeable future. And, as we grow here, those numbers will increase."
Silvestri continued by detailing a "multiplier effect" that the construction of the data centers will have on the Midlothian and Ellis County communities.
"While the job numbers might not be as high as an engineering office in Austin, we are hiring hundreds and hundreds of construction workers that are impacting local businesses, retail, hotels and housing," Silvestri said. "Our property taxes are going to continue toward schools and, as we grow, that support will continue to grow.
"Our employees are also not like normal company employees. [...] They'll be mentoring in the classroom. Google is a true member of the community and I think there is a tremendous amount of value to that."
When asked what made Midlothian and Railport Business Park so attractive to Google, Silvestri answered without pause, "the abundance of natural resources."
He also explained that the search for land to construct Google's newest data center was just that — a search.
Silvestri explained that Google and its team seek out locations and cities through in-house data collection and research.
"We are going to them, typically, after we identify things that are attractive to our business model," he said. "[...] Midlothian was the perfect mix of an incredible community with a talented workforce and had a willingness to work with us."
According to Silvestri, the search by Google is entirely different than that of Amazon and its relatively public bidding war for its second headquarters that spanned the better parts of 2017-18.
According to a Forbes article published in January 2018, Amazon had narrowed its search to 20 metropolitan cities such as Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles and New York City, just to name a few.
"We have a massive team of people scouring the globe for locations to build these massive facilities and Midlothian stood out from the very start," Silvestri added. "It is a perfect mix of a highly-skilled labor force with a strong education base and an abundance of natural resources.
"Honestly, another thing that really makes communities like Midlothian stand out is their sense of partnership. The economic development team here, [previously] under Larry Barnett, made choosing Midlothian very easy."
TECH THAT TEACHES
Midlothian ISD superintendent Dr. Lane Ledbetter was one of the final speakers to stand in front of Friday's gathering. He was also the one to deliver the biggest news of the summer for the district.
Google will award a $100,000 grant to Midlothian ISD ahead of the 2019-20 school year.
"We are so grateful to Google or its commitment, not only to the economic growth of Midlothian but also for the company's commitment to science, engineering, technical and entrepreneurship educational offerings for our students," Ledbetter stated. "We're living in an increasingly digital economy, and this grant will expand resources to our students as we prepare them for the future."
As Ledbetter announced the grant being awarded to Midlothian ISD, district trustee Andrea Walton sprung to her feet from the second row in applause.
"It means so much for our students," said Walton after the ceremony. "[...] Google is known for its community partnerships, and this is nothing but an exciting future for everyone in Ellis County, not just for people in the City of Midlothian or Midlothian ISD. We are honored to have Google choose us."
Because the grant was kept tight-lipped and as a surprise for the community and school district trustees, there is not yet a plan on how the funds will be used or earmarked. The Midlothian ISD Board of Trustees will, however, begin the budgeting process for the 2019-20 fiscal year on Monday night.
Walton encourages any community member who would like to learn more about the "real story of our taxes" to attend the 5 p.m. meeting at the L.A. Mills Administration Board Room, located at 100 Walter Stephenson Road.
But, according to Silvestri, the $100,000 grant "is only the beginning."
"We have a community grant program every year and we are excited to deepen that reach in Midlothian and the surrounding communities," Silvestri said.
He added, "We are thrilled to be growing our Texas roots with our new $600 million data center in Midlothian and expanding presence in Austin. Texas has been an important home for Google since establishing our first Austin office in 2007, and we look forward to continued investment in the Midlothian community."
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith