Google tops 6,300 employees in Seattle area, will invest $7B in new U.S. offices this year

Google’s new Seattle-area campus at Kirkland Urban.  (Google photo from December 2020)

The pandemic may have sent large portions of the Google workforce home. But the search giant is still expanding its physical footprint, announcing Thursday that it plans to invest $7 billion in offices and data centers across 19 U.S. states this year. It also said it will create 10,000 full-time jobs in the U.S. this year.

In a blog post titled Investing in America in 2021, Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai wrote: “Coming together in person to collaborate and build community is core to Google’s culture, and it will be an important part of our future.” In 2019, Google’s Pichai wrote a similar blog post announcing $13 billion in office and data center investments across 14 states.

Google is allowing employees to work remotely until September and is testing the idea of a “flexible workweek.” A survey of Google employees from July showed that most want to come back to the office, at least some days. The company employs more than 135,000 people worldwide.

Google operates a substantial engineering center across multiple locations in the Seattle area, including an expanding campus in Kirkland and new complex in the South Lake Union neighborhood in the shadow of Amazon’s headquarters. The Seattle area will be part of the company’s growth plans, and the company also said it plans to open its new office location in Portland, Ore. this year.

Just prior to the pandemic when Google opened its South Lake Union building, the company employed more than 4,500 people in the Seattle area. At the time, Seattle represented the company’s second-largest engineering outpost outside of the San Francisco Bay Area.

The company now says it employs 6,300 in Washington state and that it generated $17.2 billion in economic impact for businesses in the state last year.

A rendering of Google’s Kirkland Urban campus. (Google Photo)

Google was the trendsetter in establishing engineering outposts in the Seattle area, first establishing an operation in Kirkland in 2004. Now, there are more than 100 engineering centers in the Seattle area — operated by tech giants such as Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Salesforce.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Google’s expansion in his state is “welcome news.”

“We’re excited to partner with Google on these new investments in support of our construction workforce and long term job opportunities in computer engineering and technology related fields,” he said in a statement.

Google has ongoing construction work at its new Kirkland Urban campus east of Seattle. It also last year signed an agreement to buy nearly 10 acres of land at a car dealership site just down the street in Kirkland.

Construction is also underway at Block 38 at 520 Westlake, one of five buildings that will make up Google’s 900,000 square-foot campus in South Lake Union nearby Amazon’s world headquarters.

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