One of the world’s largest tech companies plans to invest in Pittsburgh’s tech economy.
This week, Google announced that it will invest a total of $9.5 billion in its offices and data centers in the United States this year, with the aim of creating more than 12,000 new jobs with the company across the country. And $15 million of that would go to Pennsylvania.
“Google offices and data centers provide vital anchors for our local communities and help us contribute to their economies,” said Sundar PichaiCEO of Google and Alphabet, in a report. “As we embrace greater flexibility in the way we work, we believe it is more important than ever to invest in our campuses and that this will improve products, improve the quality of life of our employees and strengthen communities.”
Growth of the Pittsburgh office
Pittsburgh, home to 800 Google employees, will also receive new attention from the company, including an extension of its office to additional floors in Bakery Square this year, bringing its total local office footprint to 320. 000 square feet.
Google’s presence here for more than a decade has long been seen as an influence in accelerating the local tech economy and entrepreneurship. Many see its 2009 expansion into the former Nabisco factory building in Bakery Square as a turning point for the city’s tech industry, though it also brought gentrification to the surrounding East Liberty neighborhood.
“The City of Pittsburgh is proud to be home to Google’s Pennsylvania office and over 800 Google employees,” said the Mayor of Pittsburgh. Ed Gainey in a report. “Their expansion is another anchor in our city’s reputation as a leading technology hub. We look forward to partnering with them as they continue to provide vital access to digital resources for families and local businesses in our community.
The Reported Impact of Big Tech Statewide
The news came along with Google’s 2021 Economic Impact Report, which summarizes national and state statistics on the economic activity stimulated by the company’s investments and other projects. In the Pennsylvania report, Google said it helped create $15.56 billion in economic activity last year across tens of thousands of businesses, nonprofits, publishers , creators and developers in the state.
The tech giant also reported that 757,000 Pennsylvania businesses received connections and inquiries from their customers for directions, phone calls, reservations, reviews and more through Google. The company also shared that it provided nonprofits in Pennsylvania with $18.59 million in free advertising in 2021 through the Google Ad Grants program.
The Pennsylvania report specifically highlighted a number of companies, including technology leaders in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Rudy EllisCEO of a multi-streaming media technology company Live switchboarddetailed how his company has benefited from Google Cloud, Google Ads and the Google Black Founders Fund for Startupswhich he received in 2019. This support, he said, has helped his team increase Switchboard signups by 400% since 2019.
Google’s report also included an East Liberty-based language-learning technology company Duolingo as a Featured Company for Pennsylvania. Duolingo’s presence on the Google Play Store helped make the app available for Android users, Global Head of Communications Sam Dalsimmer said about Google’s help in growing Duolingo’s user base. The language learning company also uses Youtube to livestream its now-annual DuoCon language convention and store its creative assets on Google Drive.
“If we didn’t have the Play Store and an Android app, we wouldn’t be able to reach as many people and provide the free education that we seek to provide,” Dalsimer said in a statement.
The report also touted Google’s charitable activity in the state and Pittsburgh area, citing awarding more than $3 million in grants to Pennsylvania nonprofits since 2017 and a total of more. than $20 million in charitable donations (including Google’s matching) from its Pennsylvania employees since 2005. Last year, Google launched a new Intro to Coding program, CS Firstto more than 24,000 K-12 students in the state.
Locally, Google provided $330,000 to Pittsburgh Carnegie Library in 2018 to launch a loaner program for laptops and Wi-Fi devices. The company also said it has partnerships with the Kingsley Associationthe Chatham University Center for Women’s Entrepreneurshipthe Homewood Children’s Villagethe YMCA of Greater Pittsburghthe Sarah Heinz House and more.
While Google’s doubling down on its commitment to Pittsburgh isn’t surprising, it’s a boost of confidence in a city that has continued to bet on the future success of its tech economy over the past year. Presenting itself as a leader in autonomy, robotics, artificial intelligence and, in the not-too-distant future, life sciences, Pittsburgh has high hopes for its innovation economy. But those dreams can probably only be realized as long as big tech companies maintain and grow locations here, bringing with them cutting-edge talent and big paychecks that can flow into local businesses as well as multinationals.
Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 corps member of Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by Heinz endowments. -30-