The State of North Carolina is attempting to convince Internet search engine giant Google to locate a new facility and 210 jobs in Caldwell County.

Madras Integration, which Governor Mike Easley’s office described as an “entity related to world leading Internet search engine Google,” received the grant offer.

“The state has made a good offer, and we hope Google will accept it and decide to locate their facility in North Carolina,” Easley said in a statement. “This company would provide the kind of good-paying, knowledge-based jobs that North Carolina citizens want. In addition, this kind of investment in Caldwell County would help reinvigorate an area hard hit in the past by the loss of textile jobs.”
However, a spokesperson for Google said the company has not yet made a decision about where it will expand. Lenior, which is in Caldwell County, is among the candidates.

"We are evaluating a number of sites, including one in Lenoir, N.C., as
possible locations for new technology infrastructure to support the strong and growing demand for our services,” said Barry Schnitt on behalf of Google. “We appreciate the efforts of the state and local governments to work with us through the evaluation process and hope to have additional details to announce in the coming months."

Google is said to be looking for sites to build “server farms” – large facilities for hosting of servers to support is massive data operation.

A company called Madras Integration LLC was formed on Aug. 1 of this year, according to the N.C. Secretary of State’s office.

The state’s Economic Investment Committee formally approved a $4.7 million Job Development Investment Grant for Madras Integration on Thursday morning. If Google does pick North Carolina, the investment would be the largest secured in part through a job development grant, according to a Department of Commerce spokesperson.

Should Google decide to locate the facility in North Carolina, the company has said it would invest as much as $600 million.

The jobs would be created over four years and pay average salaries of more than $48,000 a year plus benefits, the Department of Commerce spokesperson said.

Caldwell County and the city of Lenoir have been hammered by layoffs, especially in the furniture and textile industries. In August, for example, Broyhill Furniture shut down a plant that employed 692 people. The county had one of the state’s highest unemployment rates, 7.5 percent, in October. The state unemployment rate is 4.9 percent.

The county is classified as a Tier 1, which is the lowest in a classification system developed by the state to measure economic activity.

The facility would be located in a 215-acre industrial park being developed near the city of Lenoir, according to a local economic development spokesperson.

The grant approved by the state does not require a local match in incentives.

In September, Lenoir and Caldwell County officials launched efforts to rezone land to commercial from residential for the building of the industrial park. Caldwell County and Duke Energy purchased the land, according to the Charlotte Observer.

The state has awarded 41 other JDIG grants since the program was launched. According to the governor’s office, the grants have helped create more than 14,000 jobs and generated more than $2 billion in investments.

Google is planning to expand its technology infrastructure and is looking at several different sites, including one near Charleston, S.C., a company spokesman told The Post and Courier of Charleston last week.

The paper said a project that would create 400 jobs and an investment of $750 million could be in the works. The jobs would pay an average wage of $90,000.