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Google to invest $1 billion to expand data centers in Northern Virginia

Google Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat announces future plans in a press conference at the company’s Reston offices (courtesy Google)

Google plans to invest $1 billion to expand data center campuses in Northern Virginia this year, including two Loudoun County sites and a newly opened site in Prince William County.

Ruth Porat, the president, chief investment officer and chief financial officer of Google and its parent company, Alphabet, announced the funds on Friday (April 26) at the company’s Reston headquarters. They will bring Google’s total investment in the state to more than $4.2 billion to date.

“We’ve been here for five years with two data centers, and today, I’m really proud to announce that we’re investing an additional billion dollars in Virginia to expand those campuses and to add a third data center in Prince William County,” she said.

Google also introduced a $75 million artificial intelligence opportunity fund and an AI essentials class as part of two new workforce development initiatives geared towards helping employees and learners in Virginia benefit from new technologies.

“The intent is to ensure that everyone everywhere across Virginia and across the United States has the ability to get central training around AI,” Porat said. “How can we individually use it? How can we use it to support our businesses large and small?”

Through providing grants to best-in-class workforce development and education organizations, Google’s opportunity fund will equip more than a million people with fundamental AI skills.

“Google’s new AI Essentials course will teach people to use AI effectively in day-to-day work. In under 10 hours, people will get practical, hands-on experience using AI to help with work tasks through videos, readings, and interactive exercises,” a press release reads.

One of the fund’s first recipients, Syracuse University’s D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), will provide the new AI Essentials course and a Google Cybersecurity Certificate to its Onward to Opportunity participants in Virginia and across the country, according to the release.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin spotlighted the state’s technological advances, noting that Northern Virginia is the global hub for data centers with more development than the next five U.S. markets combined.

“With that comes tremendous synergy and an ecosystem that enables advanced development,” Youngkin said. “And so, Google’s $1 billion investment is a continued demonstration that that ecosystem is one worth investing in.”

Youngkin also said local communities are benefitting from data centers by paying $2.2 billion in wages and “a billion dollars in local revenue that funds an immense investment in schools and public services and social services.”

At the same time, some localities have moved to more closely regulate data centers in response to concerns about their neighborhood and environmental impacts. Fairfax County will hold community meetings starting this Thursday (May 2) to gather feedback on its proposed zoning changes.

In the press release on Google’s announcement, IVMF Executive Director Dr. Mike Haynie expressed appreciation for the technology giant’s continual backing.

“We are extremely proud to receive continued support from google.org that will allow us not only to continue to deliver the cybersecurity training that we’re currently delivering to the military connected community, but now also enhance the support we can provide to our nation service members, veterans and military spouses through AI training,” he said.