Ellis County officials are ecstatic with the potential a Google project to be constructed in Red Oak offers for residents. Describing it as a high yield yet low impact project, they report this will be the second data center for the tech giant to locate here; the first is under construction in Midlothian.

As it did with the Midlothian project, the county commissioners court has extended the Red Oak project 10-year abatements: on building and improvements and on business personal property. For the Red Oak project, the building and improvements abatement is at 80-percent, with the business personal property abatement at 100-percent.

Even with the abatements in place, the county will still collect $2,519,624 over the next 10 years (or $251,962 annually) for the Red Oak project.

Ellis County Judge Todd Little was among those who shared his excitement recently with the Sun, expressing his hope that Google continues to invest in the county – and that other companies follow suit.

“We are very excited to have a company like Google that would even approach Ellis County,” Little said. “They see us as a viable option for a high valued business with high average incomes and a very low impact to our land and our community because, out of $600 million in investment, there is only going to be 40-50 employees with this project. 

“It is going to create a ton of tax revenue,” he said. “So, it is a very good situation and it is a very clean operation.”

Under the abatement agreement and, within five years of the abatement period, the Red Oak project must develop 66.688 acres of its 166.59 acres of land with a minimum capital investment of $600 million. Google must also create 40 full-time jobs within those five years.

The Google investment sends a message to other companies that Ellis County is an attractive community in which both big and small businesses can thrive and grow, Little said, noting projects like this will help steer the county on its path toward the future.

“I think that Ellis County has the opportunity to say what type of businesses we want to bring in,” he said. “We are going to be looking for clean, high paying and low impact jobs. 

“The impact on the environment is what I am referring to as it relates to air quality and traffic congestion,” he said. “These are businesses that are going to create the least impact but the highest return on investment for our taxpayers.”

Little noted a “small” difference between the county’s agreement with the Google project in Red Oak and the one in Midlothian: a 5-percent differential on the building and improvements abatement. The Red Oak project received an 80-percent abatement, with the Midlothian project receiving an 85-percent abatement. He explained that the business personal property abatement applies to what’s inside of the building. 

“So that could be things such as computers, furniture and so forth, anything that is not attached to the building,” he said.

Little further pointed out that if the project doesn’t meet the $600 million investment in five years, the abatement is null and void. 

“They have 10 years to build whatever improvements they are going to build because, the discussion is, they could very well double the size of $600 million,” he said, noting that the project is looking at additional phases.

The new Google facility will be located off of State Highway 342 and Ovilla Road and across the street from Triumph Aerostructures.

Little, who served as mayor of Red Oak from 2000-2006, said he couldn’t be prouder to see companies like Triumph and Google move into the industrial park he had a hand in helping to create. 

“These are not just warehousing type or distribution jobs,” he said. “These are high tech jobs that require certifications to operate the computers and the equipment inside the computers. These are $25 and $30 an hour jobs. 

“Google has told me that their average is $67,000 a person,” he said. “When you add a spousal income of $60,000 on top of that, you are talking about a combined income of $120,000.”

When one community wins with a project, the entire county wins, he said, noting lasting economic benefits for years to come. 

Pct. 2 Commissioner Lane Grayson shared Little’s feelings about the impact the data center will have on Ellis County.  

“Yes, it is a big abatement and there are a lot of folks out there that are opposed to that tool in the toolbox called economic encouragement and what we use to encourage businesses to come forward,” he said. “There are folks that don’t believe in that. I think that it is a tool that we should use to bring in not just businesses but the right businesses to us that will affect our people in a number of ways. 

“No. 1, it will bring a better quality job and better paying job,” he said. “It improves the valuation of our county. Do I want this to be the next Silicon Valley? No, I don’t. But do I want it to bring jobs here that encourage professional development and encourage a higher standard of living? I do. I think that this particular project, like the one in Midlothian, will do that.”

Grayson said the construction alone would be a shot in the arm to the county with all of the tradesmen coming in to work. He noted that he’s heard it takes about 1,000 electricians to get one of these projects off the ground.  

“That is the first phase,” he said. “That does not talk about the two additional phases that are standing in line behind the same project who have the potential [of seeing fruition]. If we can prove successful to them, I think they are going to continue to prove successful for us. 

“We are just going to see a tremendous amount of growth,” Grayson said. “Our county has an economic trajectory that we could not plan any better. I think that these are going to be skilled jobs that are going to give us financial freedoms that we have never seen before.”

This is the second Google-related abatement approved by the commissioners court. The first was approved in July 2018 for a $500 million Google data center to be built on 375 acres in Midlothian’s Railport Industrial Park located off of U.S. Highway 67. 

The Midlothian project abatements from the county were for 85-percent on building and improvements and for 100-percent on business personal property, with each for a 10-year period. The Midlothian project will also, at a minimum, create 40 full-time jobs. A groundbreaking for the data center was held in June.

Google’s Global revenue in 2018 was reported at $136 billion, with 98,771 full-time employees. 

In December 2018, Google was ranked first among the most visited multi-platform web properties in the United States, with close to 246 million U.S. unique visitors. According to the website, Statista, Google processes more than 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to more than 3.6 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.

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