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Amazon to spend $12b on five more datacenters in Oregon

You have died of dystopia

Amazon plans to build five more datacenters in rural Oregon at estimated cost of $11.8 billion, according to documents filed in Morrow County last week.

The project would more than double the cloud colossus' datacenter footprint in the county. Amazon, home of AWS as well as an online shopping empire, operates four datacenters along the Columbia River, roughly 150 miles east of Portland, according to Oregon Live, which first reported on the planned expansion on Thursday.

If approved, construction of the five facilities would take place over the next four-five years, with the first facilities coming online in late 2023 and the last slated for early 2027.

According to government documents [PDF], Amazon expects each datacenter to cost approximately $2.37 billion. This includes $280 million for the building, $140 million for supporting infrastructure — presumably power and thermal-management systems — and $1.95 billion for the datacenter infrastructure itself.

In total, the expansion is hoped to create 600 high-tech jobs — 120 per datacenter — with an average salary of $75,000, which Amazon claims is $20,000 more than the county’s median household income. The internet super-corp right now employs 461 full-time workers at its Morrow County datacenters.

In response to our questions, an Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on the expansion, instead issuing the following canned statement: “AWS is proud of the work we are doing in Oregon. Since 2011, we have invested over $15 billion, contributed more than $66 million in tax and fee payments to the local community, and supported the development of 2,000 jobs.”

It remains to be seen how much of the project will be subject to the judicious government tax-breaks Oregon is famous for, according to Oregon Live. The outlet reports that over the past five years Amazon has secured tax breaks in Morrow County worth $161 million, including $47 million last year.

The sprawling online bazaar is the single-largest taxpayer in the county having paid more than $25 million in taxes and fees in 2021, albeit according to Amazon. That said it's less good at paying other taxes, something some shareholders are concerned about.

“That’s going to be a tough give and take,” Greg Sweek, who manages the Columbia River Enterprise Zone overseeing Amazon’s developments, told Oregon Live, the website of The Oregonian newspaper.

The risk, he explained, is if Amazon can’t get favorable tax breaks, it may try its luck in neighboring Umatilla county, where the mega-biz operates datacenters employing more than 270 workers.

The Register reached out to Sweek for further comment; we'll let you know if he has any. ®

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