It was already a little more than 3 years ago when the bombshell came out: Amazon would locate in Aragon the eighth region in Europe of its cloud service, known as Amazon Web Services (AWS), with three data centers. On October 31, 2019, the news hit the front pages of the regional media and made the national news; not surprisingly, given the economic implications of the announcement. In figures: 2,500 million euros of investment in the Community in a decade, an impact on the national GDP of 1,800 million -of which, 500 would stay in the Community- and the creation of 1,300 jobs. Now, about a month ago and with a global pandemic in the middle, these centers, located in Villanueva de Gállego, El Burgo de Ebro and Huesca, have already been set up. Three points that will completely change the digital ecosystem, and even the economic ecosystem, of Aragon, and which some people are already calling “the General Motors of the 21st century”, in an analogy with the impact of the arrival of the automotive company 40 years ago.
An approach shared by the Minister of Economy of the Aragonese Executive, Marta Gastón: “Here we already called it at the time, by how many studies have provided us, in addition to the examples, as the General Motors of the XXI century,” she said, in statements to Go Aragón.
“If in 1982 General Motors was launched, with an impact for our Community in the automotive sector and everything that has to do with no more and no less than 25,000 jobs, a third of our exports and, therefore, a significant part of our GDP, now this diversification will allow us to have this new engine, “says the head of Economy. “A new General Motors in a field such as technology and at the forefront can only grow,” she adds.
Up to 750,000 jobs in Spain by 2025
It was in Madrid, last November 24, when the technology giant carried out the launch of its project. The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, did not miss the event, nor did his counterpart in Aragón, Javier Lambán, who were with the director of AWS in Spain and Portugal, Miguel Álava. “Data management will account for no more and no less than 4% of our GDP,” said the head of the Spanish government at the presentation of the arrival in Aragon of the company, which belongs to a sector that, he said, “will employ 750,000 people in the country by 2025”.
“We want to be known as a territory of talent” marta Gastón
For Gastón, obviously, the installation of AWS is “an important project“, although he emphasizes that the vision of the Aragonese government, “with long lights“, points to the impact it will generate. “That is what is really satisfactory,” he stresses.
“They have been telling us since 2018,” he continues, “we are still not fully aware, not even those of us who have been working with them hand in hand, of what it is going to mean for the environment.
This impact can already be seen in the announcements made by different companies. This was announced by the head of AWS at the presentation in Madrid, when he revealed that BWB will invest 230 million euros in Huesca and create 2,200 jobs in construction and 260 in its data center. Or DXC Technology, which will expand its workforce in Zaragoza to more than 1,500 professionals, and Seidor, which is consolidating its presence in Aragon with its first specialized AWS competence center in Spain. Another expansion announced by Álava corresponds to NTT Data.
Aragon is “in the global showcase”.
“We have been able to see how in examples such as Stockholm (Sweden) or Cork, in Ireland, starting from a region, they have subsequently generated that ecosystem that around data centers can and is our obligation to facilitate, be a reality in a few years”, highlights the counselor.
That Amazon ended up choosing Aragon is a path that began to be traveled already in 2018. After a journey marked by confidentiality, it was the following year when the official announcement was made that it would be installed in the Community.
In fact, the first formal contact came on April 4, 2018. At the presentation held in Madrid, Lambán thanked the management made by Sánchez, whom he asked, during his stay at the Davos summit in 2019, to take an interest in this investment.
This arrival of AWS is, in Gastón’s opinion, “more than relevant” for the regional government. It is so because it means placing Aragon “in the world showcase” as a territory whose resources, such as first class soils, urban planning tools that speed up procedures, water and renewable energies, facilitate investments of this caliber. In fact, he says that, thanks to these advantages offered by the territory, the interest of other firms related to the ‘cloud’ field has already been aroused.
Commitment to talent: a digital campus in 2023
Also, from a legislative point of view, there are actions aimed at this new digital ecosystem. In fact, the region will be a pioneer in having a ‘cloud’ law, which is currently being processed by the Aragonese Parliament. And, in one of the fundamental axes for a sector such as technology, training, there are also initiatives already underway.
“make talent a flag that makes our region be recognized as a desirable territory to come and invest”
In fact, Gastón recalls how Lambán announced in early November, in his speech in the debate on the state of the Community, the inauguration on January 26 of a digital campus that will have a lot to do “with the business needs” that will generate data centers.
“We want to be known as a territory of talent”, says the head of Economy, who recalls that in Aragon specialized training is already provided in spaces such as the Center for Advanced Technologies (CTA) or the one developed in collaboration with the School of Industrial Organization (EOI). However, now they are looking for a “much more ambitious” approach that goes hand in hand with the push from Amazon.
“Logically, we have to take advantage of the fact that AWS is in Aragon and make talent a flag that makes our region be recognized as a desirable territory to come and invest,” says the Minister of Economy. As she points out, “today, with 2023 at our doorstep, digital talent is the one that is taking precedence in a transversal way for many business needs and for many investments”.