Google investing $17M into Detroit, Ann Arbor
Taylor — Google LLC is investing more than $17 million into its two Michigan locations in Detroit's Little Caesars Arena and in Ann Arbor, the company said Monday.
The California technology giant is pouring millions into 14 states as it sees faster growth outside the San Francisco Bay Area than in it, said Ruth Porat, chief financial officer for Google and Alphabet Inc. The Michigan investment will add nearly 100,000 square feet of space and a "significant number" of jobs, though the company did not commit to a particular number.
"There is extraordinary talent across country; there is extraordinary talent in Michigan," Porat told The Detroit News during a visit to the Taylor Community Library for a digital-skills public event. "People love to live here. So in our view, as we grow, we want to grow where there is extraordinary talent pools."
Employees work in ad sales, cloud computing and other areas in the Ann Arbor and Detroit offices. Although most of Google's recent headcount growth comes from engineers, the new hires will be in positions "across the board," Porat said. Google currently employs more than 600 people in Michigan.
"We have a really great cross-section of what we call Googlers here; we have our basis," Porat said. "What's beautiful about as we continue to grow here, we become more attractive for people to add onto the team."
Google will grow to cover 260,000 square feet in Michigan from its current 170,000 square feet. The company is not receiving any incentives for the expansion, officials said.
Google also will move into a building adjacent to its site that opened in 2017 at 2300 Traverwood in Ann Arbor. The University of Michigan previously rented the new building from First Martin Corp. That Google office is expected to open in early 2021.
In 2018, Google Search and Ads tools helped provide $6.41 billion of economic activity for 27,000 Michigan businesses, website publishers, and nonprofits, according to Google’s economic impact report.
The investment announced Monday does not include the $14 million Alphabet's self-driving car unit Waymo LLC is putting toward its hardware and software installation plant on American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc.'s headquarters campus in Detroit.
"They're building off the deep roots here in Michigan in the automotive area," Porat said, "and the ability to repurpose this iconic American Axle facility."
Google has had a presence in Michigan since 2007 when it opened an office in downtown Ann Arbor where Lansing-born Google founder and Alphabet CEO Larry Page attended the University of Michigan for his undergraduate degree.
"This is home to us," Porat said, "and we're excited to build onto it."
The tech company is taking its Grow with Google tour that kicked off in January through Michigan this week, offering workshops to nonprofits, small businesses and job seekers on its digital tools from Gmail to Google Analytics. Workshops were full in Taylor on Monday, and the company planned to bring the event to local libraries in Grand Rapids on Wednesday and Jackson on Friday.
"I didn't know Google partnered with nonprofits, where you can get the tools, the swag, and training," said Sylvia Anode, treasurer of Get Rich, a Detroit nonprofit that works with the Detroit Land Bank Authority, Fannie Mae and the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department to develop curriculum for felons to become contractors to clean up and close up blighted properties in the city. "We want to partner with them. I think it's great they're here in this small community."
Google has partnerships with 216 nonprofits in Michigan, many of which are focused on job and small business development. Through them, Google hopes to continue to provide tools valuable to Michigan residents and entrepreneurs.
"It’s another language," U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearbon, said the digital skills now needed in the workforce. "But it’s programs like this that make sure we are training workers of the future to have the digital skills they need."
Google also has found community libraries to be ideal partners in bringing educational opportunities to members of the public, Porat said. Taylor Library Director Vanessa Verdun-Morris said she "snapped up" the opportunity when Google reached out.
"Technology is a part of our mission statement," Verdun-Morris said. "We work a lot with job seekers, but not so much with small businesses. We saw this as one way we could work with them and help us understand what they are looking for in job seekers."
Small businesses with access to digital tools also see their revenue grow four times faster than those that don't, Porat said.
"One of the key requirements in communities and one of the key issues for individuals and businesses and not-for-profits is having the skills, training that's so key to thriving in this digital economy," she said. "As we grow, we want to make sure we are doing a lot to support the communities in which we operate."