A Google search for Project Wizard is no longer necessary.
Google revealed Friday morning during a groundbreaking ceremony its plans for a $600 million data center at 144th Street and Schram Road in Papillion.
The company announced months ago its plans to build a data center in Nebraska. It was kept a mystery under the name Project Wizard.
“The veil has now been lifted,” said Dan Harbeke, Google spokesman.
Google welcomed numerous elected officials to its groundbreaking ceremony, including Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, U.S. Rep. Don Bacon and Papillion Mayor David Black.
“We are so eager to be here as a company and work with the community,” Harbeke said. “These data centers are the engine of the internet for billions of people.”
The data center is expected to take anywhere from 18 to 24 months to complete construction on the 260-square acre plot of land. It is the eighth data center in Sarpy County and is expected to employ about 30 people full-time. Google also has a data center in Council Bluffs, the largest of Google’s data centers.
Harbeke said Papillion offered everything Google needed when searching for a home.
“We look at developable land and a facility with a power structure,” he said. “Papillion had that in abundance.”
Sarpy County Commissioner Don Kelly said it took the efforts of many from Sarpy County to land another data center.
“This happens by having a shared vision and our elected leaders had a vision of greatness that was shared by Google,” he said. “To have this come together in what used to be a cornfield is remarkable.”
Much like the Facebook data center, Google will also be powered by renewable energy.
Papillion Mayor David Black said the most recent addition to Papillion’s ever-growing western development is another case of the city being an attractive spot.
“Whether it’s a small mom-and-pop store, or a billion dollar company, we give them the same attention,” Black said. “We stay true to our core values.”
There is a contingent of people concerned that Papillion could become oversaturated with data centers. Black said you must look beyond the initial impact a data center offers.
“People need to look at the broader effect these have on the economy,” he said. “You have local vendors working here and people training here and moving here. We’re not just talking about a couple of data centers. They are here because of the infrastructure and them being here helps open up other land.”
Black believes the stage is set for more companies to continue to look at western Sarpy County as a profitable place to build.
“When you look at Omaha and Lincoln as one big metro area, we are right in the center of it,” he said. “This really is the crossroads of the region.”
Google quickly showed its impact on the community by donating $100,000 to Springfield Platteview Community Schools. SPCS Superintendent Brett Richards said the grant would be used to benefit the STEM and computer science programs in the district.
“We are ecstatic to be a part of this and have them be part of our district,” Richards said.