A Perfect Storm Brewing for Pacific Northwest Data Centers
by Josh Anderson
PORTLAND, Oregon – It’s no accident that the Pacific Northwest is seeing an explosion of data center activity and development. Thanks to a “perfect storm” of business elements, that’s not going to slow down anytime soon. Clean energy, affordable power, tax abatement, and exciting connectivity are combining to make Oregon and Washington, with Portland as the epicenter, a new kind of Silicon Valley.
“The region is the gateway between the Pacific Ocean and North America,” says Stuart Taubman, Senior Director of Business Development at Zayo. “It provides opportunities for connectivity based on its geography alone. That demand, and lower power costs, are driving additional, significant growth. It all really allows us to be as competitive as any other state going forward in terms of bandwidth, demand, and the content of data centers.”
This list of pros doesn’t even mention the highly anticipated new cable landing station coming into Hillsboro, Oregon, which is expected to drive intercontinental bandwidth between North America and both Asia and South Pacific for the next five years. As Taubman says, “it’s not even up yet, but everyone is talking about it and preparing for it.” This will be the third cable of its kind in the region.
Amazon, Google, Intel, and Microsoft are some of the most recognizable names that have significantly expanded their footprint into the Pacific Northwest. Luckily the local municipalities, both on a local and state level, have welcomed them with open arms as a means to create jobs. “Jurisdictions…really want to embrace this industry,” said Jill Miles, National Business Recruitment Officer at Business Oregon.
However, according to Taubman, this is a fragile recipe. “The challenge is that we have to be diligent and cognizant that any political changes, such as a removal of tax incentives, might immediately drag down the current acceleration we are experiencing,” he says. “If anything about our approach to tax incentives changes, we will slow this perfect storm. Everything is working. Tinkering with the ecosystem would kill it.”
Taubman believes that in order for the Northwest data center ecosystem to thrive, each member of the ecosystem must be able to leverage the bandwidth explosion taking place, and this perfect storm is allowing that to happen now. Firms across the sector are harnessing this growth and seeing the dividends pay off, from high-level leadership to normal, day-to-day operations.
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