Google is planning to invest $500 million, building a data center in Clarksville, Tennessee, in a former silicon factory.

The search giant wants to buy the site of the failed Hemlock Semiconductor factory, and build a facility which will provide around 70 jobs, and increase Google’s presence in the Nashville area, according to a report in the Tennessean. The deal is waiting on approval by the Montgomery and Clarksville planning authorities in a meeting due to take place today. 

hemlock semiconductors clarskville tennessee
Hemlock Semiconductors, Clarskville Tennessee – Hemlock Semiconductors

Industrial development 

Google wants to build a similar facility to the one it is putting in the Widows Creek reitred coal-fired power station in nearby Alabama, and the Clarksville site is also being recycled from a former industrial use. 

The land Google wants is owned by the Clarksville-Montgomery County Industrial Development Board, which wants to find productive use for the site, after the fialure of Hemlock’s $1.2 billion project to build a polysilicon factory on the site. 

Hemlock, a Dow Corning subsidiary based in Michigan, makes polysilicon for electronics and solar panels. Its Tennessee plant was announced in 2011 as part of an expansion plan with Japanese partners Shin-Etsu and Mitsubishi. It was supposed to employ 500 people, but it was a bandoned in 2014, due to a world oversupply and trade disputes which would bar its products from the Chinese markets. 

Hemlock leaves the site with an on-site electricity substation, along with renewable energy from the Tennessee Valley Authority. 

Locals hope that Google is a better bet, and will bring in other industries: “Once Google sets one up, they will probably never shut it down.” Jerry Plummer, an economics professor with Austin Peay State University in Clarksville told the Tennessean.

Google is also planning to bring TV and Internet access to Nashville, through its Google Fiber division. 

Irrelevant footnote: Clarksville Tennessee (and the nearby Fort Campbell army base) are often cited as the inspiration for the Monkees’ 1966 song “Last Train to Clarksville”, but in fact, the song’s writers chose the name because it sounds good.