By Roger Wehner
As the largest taxpayer in two eastern Oregon counties, Amazon Web Services is proud to deliver much more than the data centers it has been operating here for more than a decade. Schools, local businesses, state and regional economies, communities and the environment are key beneficiaries of AWS and its expanding investment in the regions where it operates.
AWS, the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud computing platform, has exploded since 2011 to offer more than 200 services from data centers around the globe, allowing startups, large established enterprises and leading government agencies to access cost-effective, fast and efficient computing, data storage and database technologies.
Now, a new Economic Impact Study shows AWS has invested more than $108 billion in cloud computing infrastructure across the United States and contributed nearly $38 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product while supporting some 30,000 jobs through its spending for construction, connection, maintenance and operation of data centers.
Oregon was one of the first cloud computing hubs for AWS, hosting multiple data centers that have boosted the state’s GDP by more than $6.4 billion since AWS announced in November 2011 that it was opening data center clusters in two eastern Oregon counties. The total capital investment by AWS in Morrow and Umatilla counties was $22.9 billion from 2011 through 2022
In 2021, AWS paid $41 million in property taxes and fees, with $26 million going to Morrow County and $15 million paid in Umatilla County. All told, AWS supports 5,300 local jobs in eastern Oregon, with 937 directly employed full-time positions in 2021. Those jobs paid a median annual salary of $74,000 in Morrow County and $82,000 in Umatilla County, exceeding those counties’ median household income by $17,000 and $24,000, respectively.
And these indicators are only part of the positive impact AWS is driving in eastern Oregon and across the nation. AWS InCommunities delivers long-term, innovative programs to promote science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) education, equity and access; provide local tech upskilling; foster environmental stewardship; and inspire employee engagement.
Think Big Spaces give students from kindergarten through grade 12 hands-on opportunities in AWS learning labs and the We Build It Better program has reached more than 800 students in seven area schools with skill-building curriculum.
In 2022, AWS InCommunities donated $2 million in eastern Oregon, ranging from the Eastern Oregon Mission community food bank to the Umatilla School District Robotics Program and Greater Oregon STEM, which mailed STEM kits to 4th graders in Eastern Oregon.
AWS helped Blue Mountain Community College (BMCC) establish a Data Center Technician Training Program that included $100,000 in scholarships in 2022. AWS and BMCC also co-host with Sumitomo Electric Lightwave a free two-day training course on fiber optic installation and repair that includes a networking session to introduce participants to local and national employers. AWS Grow Our Own Talent and Work-Based Learning programs provide pathways to internships and other entry-level data center careers.
Highlighting AWS’s environmental stewardship is our commitment to using 100% renewable energy by 2025. AWS also pledges to be water-positive by 2030—returning more water to communities than our data centers use. We already provide up to 96% of the cooling water from our data centers free to Oregon farmers for irrigating crops like corn, soybeans and wheat.
The AWS advantage is clear. We invest in infrastructure and jobs, promote education and workforce development, and boost economic growth as our supply chain and employees support local businesses, professional services and restaurants. AWS is proud of these investments and continued collaboration in the state and proud to call Oregon home.
Roger Wehner is Director of Economic Development at AWS.