Facebook may not pay property taxes in Crook County as part of a deal it cut to locate there, but it’s contributing in other ways. In the last three years, the company has pumped nearly $400,000 into the local economy in a variety of grants.
Most recently the social media giant awarded $100,000 to Crook County High School for science and technology education and an additional $82,000 for a study on ways to boost tourism in the county. That came on the heels of a $105,000 gift in January to schools and nonprofit organizations in the area.
That’s a far cry from what the company would have paid in property taxes had it not located in an enterprise zone, to be sure. Outside the enterprise zone, Facebook’s taxes on property and equipment would have amounted to $4.4 million, and, arguably, Facebook might not have decided to come to Central Oregon in the first place.
But come it did, and even without community donations, its presence has been felt. As reporter Elon Glucklich noted in an article in The Bulletin on Thursday, building the company’s two Crook County facilities has provided jobs for some 1,200 Central Oregon construction workers at a time when they were sorely needed. In addition, it employs about 70 full-time workers in a variety of jobs.
That’s nothing to sneeze at in a small county that’s had an unemployment rate of more than 10 percent since 2009.
Nor are the company’s gifts to the community. When unemployment rates are high, groups from the local economic development organization to the humane society find demand for their services going up even as their ability to raise money falls. Facebook has helped close some of that gap.
Would county residents be willing to settle for those property taxes alone? Perhaps. Would they get them? Not likely, given the company’s ability to get deals from other counties in the country. Facebook’s gifts may not replace the foregone taxes, to be sure, but they certainly make life better in Crook County and beyond.