By REBECCA HATTAWAY
CNHI News Service
PRYOR — Google is back in Pryor — and it’s ‘Google speed’ ahead.
The company announced plans to build a $600 million data center at Mid-America Industrial Park in 2007. The project was stalled for a time but has since resumed.
“There are very few locations that can move at Google speed,” said Matt Dunne, Google Community Affairs director. “It is a pleasure to work with a community that was willing to ‘bob and weave’ with us when we had to put the project on hold because we didn’t have the server demand at that point. It’s not every community that can move at that speed or have that flexibility.”
The data center is now operational, with 106 people currently working at the site.
“Google designs and builds our own machines,” said Mike Wooten, head of the Pryor facility. “We employ two groups of people: one maintains the facilities ... and one maintains the computers.”
There are still positions to be filled.
“We hire a lot of people from Oklahoma — Tulsa and Claremore, but a lot are from Mayes County,” Wooten said.
From the beginning, the area seemed like a good fit for Google.
“We’ve been very pleased with Mid America Industrial Park,” Wooten said. “There are several key ingredients we look for, including available land to expand, power that is reasonably priced, and a talent pool. We are glad we could come back and invest in Pryor.”
Google is known for having a unique workplace culture, and the Pryor data center will be no exception. There is a mechanical bull on site, as well as a pool table, foos ball, and dart boards.
Lunch and dinner is served on site, provided by local restaurants. Another area is set up convenience store-style with cookies, chips and other snacks.
Later, a second building will offer additional amenities, including a more extensive food service, as well as a gym and office area.
“Google believes in investing in their employees,” Dunne said, “making sure they feel well-treated so they can focus on their job.”
They also emphasize a creative environment — encouraging innovation and sharing ideas.
“We’re a very bottom-up company. If someone has an idea, they see it through,” Wooten said. “We all test and try out the new things people are coming up with all the time.”
The driving force behind every idea and innovation, Wooten said, remains the same.
“We’re focused on improving people’s lives,” he said. Currently there are five data centers in the United States and two online. Google has recently acquired land to build three others in Asia.
By REBECCA HATTAWAY
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