Apple to build new data center in Oregon

Adriene Hill Feb 22, 2012

Adriene Hill: Now to Oregon, where Apple is buying 160 acres to build a new data center. Amazon, Google and Facebook already own land in the state for their own server farms. Facebook, Google and Apple also each have data centers in western North Carolina.

Which made us wonder why these data centers often pop up in the same area, so we’ve got Patrick Thibodau with us. He’s a senior editor at Computer World. Good Morning.

Patrick Thibodau: Good morning.

Hill: So how do these companies decide where to put data centers in the first place?

Thibodau: They need land. These data centers are the size of suburban shopping malls, so they’re looking for low cost, cheap land — that’s the first thing. They also need low cost electric power, and plenty of it.

Hill: And what’s in it for the communities these centers move to, in terms of jobs?

Thibodau: These data centers don’t create a lot of jobs directly. The community will see a lot of construction jobs at the beginning, and there will also be a lot of spinoff jobs for local contractors — but the job impact isn’t huge. For the most part, they’re going to employee less than 200 full-time staff, and often less than 100 people. These are automated facilities; they run themselves.

Hill: And so what’s in it for communities, then? Why do they want these centers?

Thibodau: Well, it is creating some jobs, but it’s also some cache. If Apple builds a data center — especially if your community has suffered a lot of manufacturing losses over the year — all of a sudden, your community is being recognized as part of the whole Apple universe, and it might help attract other data centers and other hi-tech firms to locate to your community.

To get these facilities, the state’s are bidding, essentially, against one another, offering all kinds of tax breaks over multiple years. So communities can’t expect to see a lot of money from these facilities for quite some time.

Hill: Patrick Thibodau, senior editor at Computer World. Thanks.

Thibodau: All right, thank you.

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