The economic impact of Google’s data centre in Belgium

Google operates one of its three European data centres in St. Ghislain–Mons, in the southern part of the Walloon Region in Belgium. The servers in the data centre run Google products such as Search, Gmail or YouTube and support Google users across Europe and around the world.

Google has asked Copenhagen Economics to assess the economic impact of the construction and operations to date and to assess the potential impact of the expansion under consideration.

We find that the data centre has supported to date economic activity in Belgium corresponding to EUR 110 million in gross domestic product (GDP) and 1,500 full-time equivalent jobs per year on average. This equates to EUR 900 million in total over the period so far. This takes into account both the construction and operations – including direct, indirect and induced effects throughout the economy. Furthermore, we have identified that Google’s data centre generates significant broader economic effects, which provide a long-lasting benefit to the Belgian economy.

Finally, Google has submitted plans to expand its Belgian data centre (subject to planning permission and business approval). If this were to lead to double the size of the data centre, this would bring significant positive impacts: in the first 3 years (the construction phase), Google’s activities would support 3,900 jobs per year, including direct, indirect and induced effects. By the completion of its third facility, and looking over the whole period 2007–2020, Google’s data centre would support a contribution to Belgium’s GDP of EUR 2.2 billion, including direct, indirect and induced effects to the economy.