Can an Apple datacenter deliver local jobs?

Trading multi-million dollar tax breaks for a small number of low paying jobs doesn't seem like a good long-term economic plan.

Apple's second large datacenter, being built in Prineville, Oregon, comes with something that major datacenter projects rarely include; an actual numerical guarantee of local jobs. In response to the local community voting to give tax breaks to Apple, the size of which will be based on the total Apple investment in the area, Apple released a statement in which they promised to invest no less than $350 million and hire at least 35 permanent employees (staffing unrelated to the temporary construction jobs created by the building project).

With a local 14% unemployment rate, the addition of even 35 jobs to the local community of less than 9500 is an important addition to the employment base, but in a 10,000 square foot modular datacenter, the need for skilled technicians is minimal, and I would be unsurprised if the fewer than a half-dozen skilled technical jobs will be among those Apple offers. This number could go up if Apple decides to base other technologies in the area, such as construction similar to the solar power array being added to their first datacenter complex in North Carolina, but otherwise a datacenter on this scale simply doesn't require a significant on-site technical presence.

Given the probable nature of the majority of the jobs  that the datacenter will provide, the local employment benefits will likely never come anywhere near the dollar value to the local government of the tax breaks that were conceded to get Apple to build in the community. Prineville still sees these large datacenter projects as import to the future of the community, with City Manager Steve Forrester being quoted in an article on the website as saying that he sees this second major Prineville datacenter project (Facebook was the first)  as a ‘huge step  of developing our diversified economy."

Attracting additional datacenter projects to their local area may well improve the bottom line in a small rural community, but unless they can actually attract different types of technology businesses, they won't be diversifying their economy anytime soon.