State, local officials expect hundreds of jobs from big project

by: COURTESY OF RICK PAULSON - COURTESY OF RICK PAULSON The construction cranes will return to Intel's Ronler Acres Campus to expand the D1X research facility, creating thousands of new jobs.Intel’s announcement that it will double the capacity of its D1X research facility was greeted with enthusiasm throughout Hillsboro, Washington County and the State of Oregon.

Elected officials from Mayor Jerry Willey to Oregon U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici cheered the news, as did economic development officials in Salem.

Construction unions welcomed the additional work that will stretch for two more years, creating thousands of jobs doubling the size of the massive building that is nearing completion on the company’s Ronler Acres Campus.

But the happiness spread through many businesses without political or employment ties to the high-tech giant, including local realty firms, restaurants and retailers.

“It’s very exciting news. It’s a great opportunity for Hillsboro. Intel has confidence in the community, and it’s very fortunate that they do,” says Deanna Palm, president of the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce.

Matthew Klutznick, general manager for The Streets, says the news means a boost for the retail center formerly known as The Streets of Tanasbourne.

“It will be a tremendous boost for The Streets and Hillsboro in general. When Intel’s expanded in the past, retail sales increased beginning with the construction workers and continued through the new permanent employees,” says Klutznick.

Matt Crile, owner of the Windermere West real estate office at Orenco Station, says the announcement alone will be good for his business.

“The minute I heard the news, I sent out a memo to my sales team saying this is the best thing that’s happened in years, the best thing since the original project was announced. It is impossible to overstate the positive benefits of such an announcement. Creating good jobs is the best thing that can happen to the economy,” says Crile.

And in Forest Grove, buzz about what the new employment opportunities in Hillsboro could do for housing is already stirring discussions.

Teri Koerner, director of the Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce, said she has no doubt Intel’s investment will mean good news for Forest Grove.

“I think there’s no doubt there will be spillover, if nothing else in residential housing,” Koerner said.

A lot of new jobs

Although Intel officials will not say how many jobs the expansion will create, they offered some rough estimates when the original $3 billion project was announced two years ago. At that time, the officials estimated building the 1.1 million-square-foot facility would create between 6,000 and 8,000 construction jobs. Officials also estimated that between 800 and 1,000 permanent employees would be hired when it was completed.

If anything, the expansion could create more jobs. It includes the construction of an additional office building, a manufacturing support building and a parking structure.

Crile says the new jobs will benefit both the residential and commercial real estate market. A sizable number of the new permanent employees will choose to live in Hillsboro, Crile says.

Intel has about 17,000 employees in Oregon, most of whom work in Washington County. That helps explain why Washington County’s economy is performing better than the state as a whole.

The county’s unemployment rate in September was 6.9 percent, well below Oregon’s 8.7 percent unemployment rate. Washington County’s unemployment was also below the rates in Multnomah and Clackamas counties, which were both at 7.7 percent.

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