Google announced that it will be expanding its Lenoir data center. The expansion project is said to be worth $600 million. This would bring the company’s investment in North Carolina to $1.2 billion. The announcement was made more than six years after the online search giant broke ground at its 215 acre site in the North Carolina foothills. During that time, the company said it would hope to expand its initial investment.

Governor Pat McCrory and other officials were present during Friday’s groundbreaking. He said that the construction of the third building on the campus highlights Google’s long term commitment to the state. Local officials said the news solidifies the region’s reputation as the epicenter of North Carolina’s growing data center corridor. Facebook has one in Forest City and Apple has one in Maiden.

Jeff Branch, chairman of the Caldwell County commissioners’ board, said Google’s growing presence in the area, which was once known for its manufacturing and furniture, can now be said to be a major player in the digital sector. He added that Google made a big difference in the county.

Local and state officials were criticized in 2007 when plans for the center were first revealed. They offered 30 years of state and local tax breaks in order to land the high profile company. This was estimated to be worth more than $260 million, which is one of the richest incentives deal in the state’s history.

Critics said that North Carolina gave up too much for a facility that would employ no more than 200 people. Google officials said that around 150 people work at the center. Most of them come from the region. As of 2011, it has worked with 49,000 advertisers and web site publishers from the state that generated more than $1.1 billion of economic activity for them.

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