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Personnel File - November 2008: Internet Technology / Electronics

Tom Jacobik
Site Manager, Google Inc.

As head of Google’s new $600 million data center in Lenoir, Tom Jacobik is the local face for a faceless corporation that, depending on whom you ask, is either a kindly benefactor or a greedy behemoth. “There were a lot of expectations for this project,” Jacobik, 42, says. “From ‘We’re just going to go in, set up a warehouse and leave’ to ‘We’re going to be the savior of the town.’” Both are wrong, he says. The company isn’t about to pull up multimillion stakes. But with only 210 jobs, neither should it be expected to revive a community that has lost more than 2,500 manufacturing jobs in recent years.

That’s not to say Google isn’t trying to be a good neighbor. It has held an open house to show off operations. Employees are working with community colleges to write Internet-technology curricula and volunteering with school groups. Whether it can mute complaints about the $260 million incentives package it received and a 22.2% property-tax jump in 2007-08 remains to be seen.

For Jacobik, a native of Olean, N.Y., and a father of seven, leading the project is something of a dream come true. After getting a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Northwestern University in 1987, he spent six years in the Air Force. Then came stints in several tech companies, including Cisco Systems and Oracle, where he was director of tactical operations. When he got the chance in 2006 to help Google build a data cen- ter from the ground up, he jumped at it. Operations began this spring in the first of two 100,000-square-foot computer-filled buildings on the 220-acre site. The second should be ready to go online next year. He says the mainly positive response in the community and the availability of skilled workers bode well for it. “Caldwell County could be a great place for technology businesses, going forward.”