LENOIR, N.C. -- Technology giant Google broke ground Friday on a third data center in Lenoir.
It's a $600 million dollar investment creating 50 new jobs and involves a commitment to renewable energy.
Google plans to participate in a new program developed by Duke Energy for large customers that want to buy renewable energy.
Duke will make a regulatory filing proposal with the North Carolina Utilities Commission in the next 90 days. The option is voluntary and will not affect the rates of other customers.
"Google's announcement shows what forward-thinking companies can accomplish when they are serious about powering their operations with clean energy," said Greenpeace International Senior IT Analyst Gary Cook.
The new data center will be a big room full of computers and will support Google searches, Gmail, Google+ and YouTube.
"We continue to see increased usage in our services and we had to build out additional capacity," said Operations Manager Enoch Moeller.
"It's a huge capital investment," said North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.
"It's a boost of confidence that this area needs, the state needs and a very positive sign."
For all intents and purposes, Paul Bowman embodied Lenoir, Caldwell County, and the area's long history of manufacturing.
"I went into furniture, which that's what everyone around here did," Bowman said.
Jobs came and went. He saw the area's past dying and the unemployment rate rising, currently at 11 percent, all while raising four kids.
"With furniture, never knew day to day what was going to happen," he said.
Bowman is now an operations engineer at the Lenoir plant and has worked there for five years after making the transition from manufacturing.
"Just happy they came here," he said.
The new jobs will include making sure the computer systems inside the new data center are working.
Google isn't saying if a fourth data center is coming.