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Nike seeks county tax relief

Request signals company's intent to expand its operations near Beaverton


Nike is seeking financial incentives from Washington County to expand its headquarters near Beaverton.

The incentives are in addition to assurances about state taxes that the apparel giant has requested in a special session of the Oregon Legislature that Gov. John Kitzhaber has called for Friday.

Kitzhaber says Nike could eventually create 12,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2020, boosting Oregon’s economy by $2 billion a year. Nike Chief Financial Officer Don Blair has promised the company will expand in Oregon in exchange for the greater state tax certainty. The minimum investment being discussed is $150 million to create 500 jobs over five years. The company currently employs approximately 8,000 employees in the county.

But Nike has not said where in the state it will expand, despite having the vast majority of its Oregon employees in and around its Washington County campus.

Nike and county officials have been quietly discussing possible financial incentives for months.

Neither side will confirm them publicly, but sources familiar with the discussions say the talks began well before Nike approached Kitzhaber with concerns over future state tax changes a little more than a month ago. The local discussions have included the possibility of the county waiving property taxes on any new Nike buildings and the land where they might be built.

Nike’s Oregon workforce has grown 60 percent since 1970 and the company has bought and leased several buildings near the campus in recent year to accommodate the additional employees. However, there's still room for the company to expand within and near its campus, located a mile south of the Sunset Highway, along Murray Boulevard.

The county already participates in a state program that waives property taxes to encourage economic development projects. Called the Strategic Investment Program, it has been used to encourage expansions at Intel’s Ronler Acres Campus.

The current program mostly waives taxes on new equipment, not land and buildings, however. The Washington County Board of Commissioners would need to change its policies to accommodate Nike’s request.



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