Study touts Comcast's economic clout, and its gentler side, to the value of $500 million.

COURTESY: COMCAST - Comcast donated buckets and manpower to put up Christmas lights in McMinnville in 2017.

Comcast generated $528 million in annual economic impact and directly supported 1,914 jobs in Oregon, according to a new study.

According to ECONorthwest, the Philadelphia-based cable giant also supports 1,221 indirect or induced jobs. These include digging up roads and building offices. Construction spending supported an additional 1,072 jobs, with a labor income of $54.7 million.

Comcast of Oregon/SW Washington has a subscriber base of more than 600,000.

"We employ nearly 2,000 Oregonians, providing living wage jobs for their families as well as a vital service that connects individuals and businesses throughout the Willamette Valley," said Rodrigo Lopez, Comcast's regional senior vice president for Oregon/SW Washington.

Labor income accounted for $192 million dollars.

And your cable guy/gal probably makes $57,000: Comcast employees averaged a total compensation of more than $57,000 per year.

Using data for 2016, ECONorthwest looked at how Comcast affects Oregon's economy, rural as well as Portland-area.

The sources include Comcast's business purchases, charitable contributions and capital spending. They support additional economic activities in other parts of the state including purchased goods and services from local businesses and spending by Comcast's employees in the regional economy.

"We're proud of the investment Comcast has made in the state, adding more than $500 million to the Oregon economy in 2016 alone, and we plan to continue investing and growing here," said Lopez.

He was keen to make the point that this makes Comcast a big private employer in Oregon. Comcast's service area is mostly Portland up to Longview Washington and down to metro Eugene.

Comcast was keen to tout its $3.5 million in financial contributions to nonprofits and community partners, as well as thousands of hours of service work by its Oregon employees.

"We live in a part of the country that is very aware of social responsibility, so with this report folks will get a better understanding of how we give back," Lopez told the Business Tribune.

COURTESY: COMCAST - Rodrigo Lopez, Comcast's regional senior vice president for Oregon/SW Washington.

He said that the Oregon contribution to charity in terms of cash and hours was proportional to those in neighboring states. "We have a couple of national partnerships, with the Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Boys & Girls Club," he said. When the new hire classes graduate every month, they are often asked 'How did you end up here?' In an era of low employment folks, have choices. We're getting better in our employee retention, and we're telling our story better internally and externally."

Helping former service people also counts as giving back. Many technicians are ex-military. "The frontline, it's a technical job. Our teams work with partners to aid with veterans and their integration back into the workforce."

Lopez has been with Comcast for more than 20 years, working his way up from part-time customer account executive in Orange County, California. He moved on to Delaware, Washington, Sacramento, California and most recently was regional vice president of Comcast's Mountain region based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

"My wife and kids and I have lived in West Linn for five years, so from the first I was committed to the Oregon experience. Our staff are on boards, they coach little league, they belong to the PTA..."

He serves on the board of directors for Oregon Sports Authority, Portland Business Alliance, Oregon Business Council, Latino Network and Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area.

Being a cable company is no longer about sending a guy round to hook up service.

Comcast offers Internet, landline and cell phone service. Menus of TV choices are huge. YouTube, Netflix and IHeartRadio are now voice searchable, and home security is a growing sector.

Savvy customers have adapted, and some use home install kits to do their own installation to save time and money. "With the evolution of technology, the ability of customers to self-serve is making it not necessary to reach out so often."

He says the local network of coaxial and fiber is robust and is ready for the next wave of high speed Internet. In 10 years, he expects 8K TVs and cloud delivery will be standard.

Joseph Gallivan
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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