Since retiring to a small Oklahoma town, such as the one I grew up in, I’ve been interested in the fate of small town rural America. Why is it that once-prosperous communities–where we live now used to have 4 movie theaters, a barber shop on every corner, and restaurants galore (now we have no theaters, one barber, and a handful of places to eat)–now have boarded-up downtowns, a mostly geriatric population, and an opioid problem. I’m visiting my mother this week in the town I grew up in, which is struggling, though it is in better shape than most.
But in nearby Pryor, about 30 miles away, Google in 2011 built a data center, one of 13 in the world and the second-largest. Housing the company’s servers and computers, the center cost $2.5 billion and currently has about 400 employees. Google reportedly likes Pryor and has started a $600 million expansion.