Information technology giant Google will bring up to 600 new jobs to Maricopa County in the next few years. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company said Wednesday it will develop an engineering and customer support center somewhere in the Valley.
"We are very, very excited to be joining the Valley area today," said Douglas Merrill, Google's senior director of information systems, during a press conference Wednesday morning at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix.
He said Google hopes to develop its Valley campus into "a major site" for the hot high-tech company, which has gained fame for its phenomenal growth and soaring stock price.
Merrill said the company is attracted by Arizona's available supply of software engineers, its education facilities, including Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, and the region's quality of life.
He did not specifically say how many people the company hopes to employ in the Valley, but Gov. Janet Napolitano said it could be as many as 600.
Google has set up a temporary office in downtown Phoenix with about seven people to begin interviewing job candidates and planning for the company's permanent location, Merrill said. The company will look for a site, he said, "where we can create the kind of environment . . . . that we want for our employees."
Merrill added the company is not looking to create a bidding war among Valley cities wanting to host the permanent offices.
"It's not a competition," he said. "We are looking around. There are lots of wonderful opportunities in the Valley area."
Napolitano said the state has not offered any financial incentives for Google to locate in the Phoenix area.
East Valley municipalities often have shelled out millions of dollars to land high profile companies. Tempe Vice Mayor Mark Mitchell said after the press conference that he reviews the use of tax incentives and abatements on a case-by- case basis.
Last month Mitchell and a majority of the Tempe City Council went against Mayor Hugh Hallman, who was pushing for the state to step in and limit the use of incentives.
"This is good for the region, this is good for the state," Mitchell said regarding Google. "I don't see this escalating into a bidding war."
Tempe Councilwoman Pam Goronkin said she was not sure what Google was looking for, but said cities need to remain flexible when it comes to incentives.
Richard Mulligan, director of the city of Mesa's economic development department, said his city is interested in trying to recruit Google, but he declined to say what strategy will be used.
"To the extent that we are allowed to compete, we would want to make a competitive offer," he said.
Napolitano said the announcement is an indication that "Arizona is becoming a place where high-tech businesses want to set up shop. . . This is the type of innovative technology company we want to come to Arizona."
In a press release the company said it will be looking primarily for software engineers to help develop the company's next-generation search engine and related technologies.
"We're working on problems in a number of areas including cutting-edge information-retrieval algorithms, scalability issues related to dealing with huge amounts of data and a rapidly increasing user population, and a variety of novel search features," the statement said.
Company officials also said they are looking for world-class security engineers to ensure "the highest security standards" for the company's software, networks and systems.
Merrill declined to say what salaries the company will offer, except that they will be "competitive."
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