(Photo by Alan Brandt)
Local EDCO Leader Highlights Social Media Giant’s Continuing Impact
Facebook’s expanding footprint in Prineville has again put it at the forefront of leading economic growth in Crook County.
The local branch of Economic Development for Central Oregon recently held its annual luncheon, at Meadow Lakes Golf Club — which featured and enlightening keynote address on company culture from organizational consultant specialist Moe Carrick, leader of Moementum — and afterward Prineville/Crook EDCO Director Caroline Ervin highlighted the social media giant’s continuing positive impact on the local community.
From an economic development perspective, perhaps the most noteworthy news in Prineville in the past year has included Facebook’s announcement of continued expansion, with an additional 970,000 square feet of data center and office space currently under construction.
This came on the heels of completion of the company’s third building in the first part of 2017. Both the completed building and current expansion represent a minimum of $200 million in capital investment each, with significant job creation results.
Ervin said, “Economic benefits resulting from the development and operation of data centers here in our small community are extensive.
“First, the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars in their construction (which has been relatively constant since 2010 and is expected to continue for nearly the next four years) is a driver of economic activity.
“The obvious beneficiaries are local businesses involved in fueling, building products, hotels, construction services, and restaurants; however, there are many other employers that have been helped. Second, they will have very positive long-term implications for property tax collections, which support our schools, public safety, and other critical services.
“Shorter-term, proceeds from the sale of public land, planning department fees, the yearly payment-in-lieu of taxes paid to the City of Prineville and Crook County, and franchise fees paid on power usage all have been major injections of needed cash for our local governments. “Additionally, well over $1 million in grant money has been awarded to local schools and nonprofits by Facebook.”
Featuring huge data center presences in four states — including the Prineville base — Facebook’s facilities have contributed some $5.8 billion to the national economy since 2010, according to a recent study released by the social networking behemoth. In Prineville, where the Menlo Park, California-headquartered company has had operations since 2010, it has invested around $1 billion into the facilities. The recent expansion announcement will add hundreds of millions more to that sum.
The new construction is set to see contractors working on the site for an estimated four more years.
EDCO CEO Roger Lee recognized Facebook’s “tremendous economic impact” in Prineville, adding, “The community, led by the city and county, recognized the strategic need to diversify its rural economy via the data center industry”, and noting that when the company broke ground on its first facility there in in 2010, the unemployment in Crook County was the highest in Oregon at some 17 percent while today it is at 6.5 percent and continues to edge lower.
The Facebook study also pointed to the company’s “multiplier effect” within data center communities. For every full-time job at the data center, it estimated that another five jobs are created elsewhere, and for every $1 million spent on operations at a data center, another 13 jobs were created.
In Prineville, Facebook now has approximately 200 full-time employees.
With its focused on environmentally friendly facilities and renewable energy resources such as wind and solar, Facebook’s data centers use significantly less water and electricity than the average data center nationally.
In Prineville, this focus has led the company to help launch the “Open Compute Project” with other tech industry leaders to share designs and best practices for data center construction. Also, to date, Facebook has donated around $1.5 million to nonprofits and Crook County schools.
Oregon has become a favored destination for data centers, in part due to the relatively low cost of energy in the state. As well as Facebook, Apple also has a facility in Prineville, Google has a presence in The Dalles, and Amazon has facilities in Eastern Oregon. Additionally, third-party companies operate data centers used by others across the state including several in Washington County.
Ervine added that other economic activity in the past year, has included two new companies that have sited in Prineville and are currently operating: “Both of which have created jobs and made significant capital investment.
“Also, in the pipeline are 12 pending projects, which include companies that have expressed a deep level of interest in, or are currently in the process of, ‘Moving’, ‘Starting’ or ‘Growing’ in Crook County.
“For traded sector companies looking to MOVE, START, or GROW in Prineville, EDCO can provide assistance with everything from site selection to incentive programs, and all things in between.
“Plus, our services are free. Prineville is a business friendly, and forward-thinking community with a can-do attitude and local governments that operate with a pragmatic and problem-solving mentality.”