Silicon Prairie anyone?
"One of the reasons for the smoke and mirrors is the fact that, as soon as locals find out that a big online business comes to town, they lose their shit."
Local politicians in these rural communities are happy for tax revenue coming in, but the idea that these data center projects produce tons of local employment is wrong. Once the place is built, you pretty much have a couple of security guards, maybe some HVAC technicians, and a small number of hardware-swappers and cablers -- "smart hands," I believe they're called. Even the smart hands aren't needed as much anymore with the modular data centers cloud vendors are building. They'll just roll in shipping containers full of pre-racked hardware and roll in new ones once enough machines in any one container have hardware problems.
It's a shame too, because data center technician jobs used to be the stepping stone into IT for a lot of people. But, I doubt this is going to change anytime soon. Land is absurdly cheap and abundant in the middle of the country, as is the little labor you need. I just hate seeing local politicians bending over backwards for these companies, investing a ton of money to get them there, then have the company abandon them or not employ the local population.