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How Google Helps Power Oregon’s Economy

Google has a huge digital presence online, but few stop to consider the physical presence. Here in Oregon, Google has created quite a footprint in the Dalles region. They recently opened up a 164,000 square-foot, two-story data center to join their other two server farm facilities next door.

This complex draws quite a bit of power from the region, but Google has made efforts to give more than they take. Their “Don’t Be Evil” pledge extends to encouraging regional economies rather than trying to suck them dry. Between tax deals with Wasco County, services provided to Oregon businesses and philanthropic efforts extended to non-profits, Google claims it has enabled $939 million’s worth of economic activity in the state in 2014 alone.

Fueling the Engine of Economic Progress

Many were skeptical of allowing data centers to move into Oregon. After all, they draw astronomical amounts of power from the grid, and their sprawling footprints blot out smaller industrial and business sites that would pay more aggregate property tax revenue. Google preempted these concerns by arranging a tax deal together with Wasco County and Oregon.

According to The Oregonian, Google agreed to pay $1.2 million to The Dalles and Wasco County to pave the way for their newest data center to open. They will also begin shelling out $800,000 a year beginning in 2016, mostly as a way to make up for burdening municipal services and swallowing massive property lots.

The city has started cashing their checks. A new fire station project has begun, as have several new public swimming pools.

Beyond tax revenue, Google has also created new opportunities for digital wheeling and dealing in the state. They report that 39,000 Oregon businesses and nonprofit organizations were able to benefit from Google’s advertising services and other digital tools.

Many of these advertising services were provided free-of-charge thanks to Google’s Ad Grants program. This service allows nonprofit organizations and local businesses to create pay-per-click style advertising based on keyword queries for no cost. One such company Google highlighted was the Portland Meat Collective, a cooperative network of Portland residents who purchase meat from local ranchers. The group even offers butchery classes.

Founder Camas Davis indicated that Google’s charitable act was indispensable to their business. “My website has always been, and still is, our storefront. That’s how people find us. We’re a word-of-mouth business, and a lot of that word of mouth happens online.”

How Google Can Power Your Business

Google made further claims in their recent report that 97 percent of internet users will be searching online for local products and services. For organizations and brands that can capture this market, they will have a constant flow of digital “foot traffic” into their e-commerce storefronts. The keys are to create Google-friendly web pages that are rich in common keywords while still providing valuable content.


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