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Google touts $1.8 billion investment in Oregon data center

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Google has issued a report highlighting the economic contributions of its six U.S. data centers, including its original facility in The Dalles.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the Silicon Valley company said Monday it has invested $10.5 billion building data centers across the country since 2006, when it opened its Oregon location along the Columbia River. The company was the first of several large data hosting companies to capitalize on Oregon's relatively low power costs and uniquely advantageous tax structure.

Google opened its third data center in The Dalles in February and now employs 200 there, according to the report. It has invested $1.8 billion altogether, mostly to buy thousands of pricey servers to host Gmail, photos, movies and untold terabytes of corporate data.

Oregon's big draw for data centers is the absence of a state sales tax, which saves companies hundreds of millions of dollars on those servers, and a property tax exemption under Oregon's enterprise zone program that's worth even more. Apple, Facebook and Amazon all enjoy similar benefits in other parts of central and eastern Oregon.

Wasco County estimates Google's property tax breaks were worth just shy of $140 million to Google since 2006.

While Google's 200 local jobs don't amount to much on a statewide level, Oregon data centers do have a significant impact in the small communities where they operate. Wasco County has about 10,640 jobs altogether, according to the Oregon Employment Department.

And data centers' considerable electricity use - they often consume as much energy as entire small towns - generate local franchise fees that boost public budgets.

The Dalles says it received about $937,000 in electricity franchise fee revenue last year. Based on growth since Google opened its first data center, the company may be responsible for about half that -- or about 7 percent of The Dalles' total general fund revenue.

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