Rumors are swirling that Nike is looking at Portland as a possible location for its announced expansion.
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has called a special session of the Oregon Legislature for Friday to guarantee Nike financial certainty for the foreseeable future in exchange for a commitment to investment at least $150 million and create a minimum of 500 new jobs over five years in the state.
The company has been in discussions with Washington County officials for months about financial incentives for adding to its World Headquarters outside of Beaverton. Nike officials have declined to comment on whether they are seeking additional financial incentives from governments where they might locate.
But sources say Portland is also trying to entice Nike into creating jobs in the city. Possible locations include South Waterfront, developer Tom Moyer's unfinished downtown office tower, and the area around the Rose Quarter, which Mayor Sam Adams has targeted for athletic apparel employment.
City officials declined to confirm or deny that discussions with Nike are underway. In a Wednesday email, Portland Development Commission spokesman Shawn Uhlman wrote, "We are thrilled at the prospect of Nike expanding their operations in the state, hiring additional employees and increasing their already significant local economic impact.Â In our role as the citys economic development agency, PDC is often tasked with responsibilities related to employment based recruitment or expansion efforts. At times this role requires us to act with great discretion, even if we had information we could not disclose details."
But as first noted Wednesday by Willamette Week, the Portland City Council is scheduled to consider expanding an enterprise zone in South Waterfront on Thursday. According to a Dec. 5 memo to Adams from PDC Deputy Director Keith Witcosky, enterprise zones are "one of the state's most effective mechanisms for business growth, expansion, retention and recruitment." They abate property taxes for five years to firms making new capital investments which expand operations and increase employment.
The land, which runs under the Ross Island Bridge, includes the Zidell Marine barge building operation and open space. It is being marketed by ZRZ Realty.
According to Witcosky's memo, "ZRZ Realty is currently master planning the future development of this property with a focus on attracting high-grwoth, quality-job creating companies. This E-Zone designation will provide an important resource for leveraging employment opportunities on this site and assisting ZRZ and the City in reaching goals for 10,000 jobs and 5,000 housing units for South Waterfront at full build out."