Google to close Arizona offices

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Internet search-engine behemoth Google has announced it is closing its operations in Tempe, just two years after opening the site with the promise of hundreds of jobs.

The announcement from executives of the Mountain View, Calif.-based company came Friday and is viewed as a setback to the state's efforts to expand its high-tech base.

A Google executive said the company will move the 50 employees working at a building on Arizona State University's campus to California or New York.

"We opened our Phoenix office in 2006 and hoped that it would develop to support many of our internal engineering projects, the systems that make Google, well, Google," Alan Eustace, a Google senior vice president for engineering and research, said in a statement. "But we've found that despite everyone's best efforts, the projects our engineers have been working on in Arizona have been, and remain, highly fragmented."

The office will close on Nov. 21.

The company's announcement that it would open an Arizona office and hire as many as 600 engineers was touted by Gov. Janet Napolitano in late 2005. At the time, Napolitano said Google represented the type of innovative advanced technology company the state wanted to attract. She called the firm's decision to open the office "a good marriage" with a growing state.

Napolitano's staff learned of the closure from the media on Friday, although Google had informed employees and ASU the day before.

"It appears to be an isolated reallocation of resources of one company and there is a lot going on in Arizona," said Napolitano spokeswoman Jeanine L'Ecuyer told The Arizona Republic. "We have been building and growing on the tech front for some time. I don't see this as an enormous blow."