Company decides to expand campus with two buildings

During the months Nike leaders quietly mulled over locations for the company’s expansion, rumors and speculation in the news media held that Portland’s Southwest Waterfront area would be the chosen spot.

Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle ignored such talk.

“I take rumors with a grain of salt,” he said on Tuesday. “I didn’t think any location was ever at the forefront. I never lost confidence that the locations they were looking into included those in Washington County right next to the campus.

“I thought it made sense for a whole lot of reasons.”

Nike Inc. made it clear last week that expanding its World Headquarters campus — located on an unincorporated Washington County island surrounded by Beaverton — made sense to the company. Speculation was put to rest on Thursday afternoon when the global footwear giant said it would construct two new buildings on its sprawling campus at Southwest Jenkins Road and Murray Boulevard.

Construction is set to begin later this year on the facilities, one located next to the Tiger Woods Conference Center near the Jerry Rice Building and another near Nike’s C. Vivian Stringer Child Development Center, said Nike spokeswoman Mary Remuzzi. The buildings will provide an additional 50,000 square feet of office space to the more than 210-acre campus.

She declined to name how many new employees the buildings will accommodate.

The nod to Washington County as Nike’s “preferred” choice for expansion effectively ends jockeying between the city of Portland and Washington County that began last fall.

“Portland was a compelling option,” Remuzzi said. “Ultimately, we decided to expand in Washington County due to a number of criteria including cost and the benefit of locating our teams together.”

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, a Democrat representing Oregon’s 1st Congressional District including Beaverton, praised the decision.

“I’m thrilled with Nike’s decision to expand in Washington County,” she said. “I congratulate the company and all of the local officials who have worked so hard to make this happen. The expansion will be a great boost to our local economy, and it couldn’t have happened without everyone working together.”

Capitol idea

Speculation about the expansion began during December’s special session of the Legislature. Gov. John Kitzhaber called the session for legislation to assure Nike — one of only two Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Oregon — expanded within the state. A new law authorized the governor to enter into a contract guaranteeing Nike’s current state tax structure — provided it invests at least $150 million in Oregon to create 500 or more jobs.

Nike leaders pushed for the legislation, saying the company needed to expand its headquarters and was being courted by other states.

With Thursday’s announcement, the company indicated it would require the continued support and action by state and local governments to bring expansion plans to fruition.

“Nike is a growth company with a long history in Oregon, and we look forward to continuing to grow here,” said Nike President Mark Parker. “We would like to thank Gov. Kitzhaber and officials from the state, the cities of Portland and Beaverton, and Multnomah and Washington counties for working with us to expedite and support the proposed design, planning and building of the expansion of our headquarters. We look forward to continued partnerships as we work together to bring this important project to life in Oregon.”

Since 2007, Nike’s employment in Oregon has grown by nearly 60 percent, with more than 8,000 Nike employees and contract workers employed at its headquarters and leased space in and around Beaverton.

Rising tide, lifting ships

When he heard about the expansion on Friday while on an economic-oriented conference in Tokyo, Japan, Doyle was all smiles.

“That certainly got my weekend off to a good start,” he said. “I just see this as a terrific win for the Westside. I’m not at all surprised they chose Washington County. The county folks worked hard, and we supported them.”

While the expansion within Washington County boundaries would provide no direct tax revenue to Beaverton, residual effects from new residents in the city as well as the county could be substantial.

“I think this has some pretty significant ups for the (Beaverton) school district,” Doyle said. “More taxes should help the entire community, from those who want to rent or buy near where they work.”

Randy Ealy, the city’s chief administrative officer in the mayor’s office, said the news bodes well for the city’s economic growth.

“It’s pretty exciting news on all accounts,” he said just after Nike’s announcement on Thursday. “One thousand Nike employees call Beaverton their home, and certainly that number will grow. These are people who shop in our stores, purchase goods in our businesses, send their children to our schools — and it’s a company that, frankly, pays salaries that are twice the state average. It’s a good day to be working in Washington County.”

Regional victory

Nike’s expansion is likely to provide a boost to 45 Degree Central, the new 26-acre residential and commercial center rising at the intersection of Murray and Jenkins.

Some of the company’s new workers are likely to be tempted by the urban style, 360-unit project that will offer a mix of contemporary homes, restaurants, athletic facilities, eateries, parks and trails — all within easy walking distance to Nike’s proposed new buildings.

“We’ve already had a lot of interest from Nike employees and have made several sales to them,” said Megan Talalemoto, sales manager for the Crandall Group, which is marketing the homes. “I was just thrilled when I heard the company was expanding so close to us.”

With the city’s recently expanded enterprise zone now including property adjacent to Nike headquarters in unincorporated Washington County, it would be up to the company to apply to receive three-to-five years of property tax breaks, Ealy said. The state-sanctioned zone waives property taxes for companies that agree to invest at least $1 million into facilities and new employment.

“I know we’re excited we have that tool available,” Ealy said, adding he has “no idea” whether Nike is interested in an E-zone status. “Never, as far as I’ve been involved in this process, been asked (by Nike) anything about paperwork for the enterprise zone.”

While Beaverton and the Westside will reap expansion benefits most directly, Doyle sees Nike’s decision as a victory for the entire Portland-Beaverton region.

“We’re no longer isolated. Oregon is part of the world economy,” he said. “The real key is to continue to attract new businesses to Oregon. As the region works together like it did on this one, you get results.”

Pamplin Media Group reporters Jim Redden and Kevin Harden contributed to this story.

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