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Google’s data centre has contributed EUR 900 million to the Belgian economy since establishment, with the potential for growth to over EUR 2 billion by 2020.

Copenhagen Economics (CE) evaluates the economic impact of Google's data centre in St. Ghislain, Belgium, originally constructed in 2007 and in operation to the time of study in 2015. Additionally, a projected valuation of further contributions to the Belgian economy from a possible expansion to the centre is provided.

Google’s Belgian data centre houses a large number of high-performance servers, networking equipment and communication links. These are used to run Google products including Search, Gmail and YouTube, and provide support to Google users across the globe. Google had spent EUR 775 million on the data centre at the time of study, relying largely on the use of Belgian workers and suppliers for its development.

CE finds that, on average, the centre has generated economic activity in Belgium to the value of EUR 110 million in GDP annually. This amounts to EUR 900 million in total across the full period of 2007 to 2014, including both construction and operation of the centre and all direct, indirect and induced effects spread through the economy. The centre is responsible for creating 1,500 full-time jobs per year on average, where the vast majority of operation jobs are performed by medium-skill qualified stuff with upper secondary education.

 

 

Google’s investment into the data centre has also trickled down into many other sectors of the economy, stimulating economic activity and employment in the industries of retail trade, transport, accommodation, catering, housing and finance. Furthermore, CE reports a wider impact on society attributed to the enhancement of productivity in Belgian businesses. This is the result of training provided and skills developed along Google’s supply chain, as well as new knowledge brought to the country, fostering growth in efficiency of local suppliers. As an added benefit, Google’s activity in Belgium increases its appeal for other foreign investment.

Finally, if Google were to expand its data centre to double its size, this is projected to create a further 3,900 jobs on average per year in the first three years. Approximately half of these jobs would arise in other industries in the economy, including those mentioned above. In the period from 2015-2020, this expansion would create an average contribution of EUR 140 million per year, including direct and indirect effects.