As politicians and regulators in Washington, DC, eye Google’s vast power, top execs at the company are making a series of public appearances in America’s heartland to highlight its role as a job creator far outside Silicon Valley.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai visited the company’s data center in Pryor, Oklahoma, on Thursday to announce plans to invest $600 million to expand its presence in the city. In the process, Google says it will create 100 more jobs and support local schools.
Google began construction on the data center in 2007 and opened it in 2011. It currently has more than 400 full-time employees, whose work helps keep popular services like Gmail, YouTube and Google’s search engine operational, according to the company.
“This is one of our largest data centers,” Pichai said in an exclusive interview with CNN Business’ Poppy Harlow while walking through the facility. “All the searches you do, when you find driving directions in maps, we make all of that happen through data centers like these.”
In the interview, Pichai said Google’s investment has “had a real impact” on this Oklahoma community. “It attracts more investment and it drives a set of things around the community which creates a virtuous cycle,” he said.
Another top Google exec delivered a similar message earlier this week. Ruth Porat, the CFO of Google and its parent company Alphabet (GOOGL), stopped in Michigan to announce a $17 million investment to expand its offices in Detroit and Ann Arbor. In a blog post, Porat said the investment would allow Google to “significantly increase our local workforce in the coming years.” The offices are currently hiring for a range of sales positions, according to Google’s career page.
Google is also planning to announce an expansion in Texas soon.
The moves are part of a broader investment, announced in February, to expand Google’s physical presence throughout the US and ultimately boost hiring. Google previously said it planned to invest $13 billion in data centers and offices in more than a dozen US states this year, which he claimed would pave the way for hiring tens of thousands of employees.
It represents a striking new trend for the Silicon Valley company. “Last year was the first year when we added more people outside of California than within California,” Pichai told CNN Business. And while some companies like Amazon are weighing second headquarters outside the Bay Area, Pichai says Google prefers to take a more “distributed” approach, with offices and operations sprinkled around the country.
“This national expansion comes at a significant moment for Google,” Pichai said in his remarks Thursday. “For 21 years we’ve pursued a timeless mission: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. In that time, we’ve evolved from a company that helps people find answers to a company that helps people throughout their day.”
Other tech giants, such as Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN), have also made splashy announcements about expanding their US footprints in recent years, including Amazon (AMZN)’s very public search for a second headquarters. These investments may be fueled by the tech companies expanding into new markets and technologies, including cloud computing.
These moves came against the backdrop of a shifting political climate for the tech industry, with President Donald Trump accusing Amazon of not paying enough taxes and calling for Apple to make its products in the United States rather than in China.
The political pressure on Silicon Valley has only ratcheted up in recent weeks.
This month, the House Judiciary Committee launched a “top-to-bottom” antitrust probe of Big Tech and reports came out that two federal regulators are divvying up responsibility for oversight of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple.
The Department of Justice is said to be laying the foundation for a potential antitrust investigation of Google, with a focus on its search business.