State, local officials expect hundreds of jobs from big project

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 Denzil Scheller, co-owner of the Venetian Theatre and Bistro at 253 E. Main St., is already looking forward to a boost in business. Scheller says so many Intel employees already eat there, they are given automatic discounts for simply wearing their identification badges.

And, Scheller says, the company holds so many events in the building that he recently upgraded its wireless capabilities.

“Frankly, Intel is is so important to us now, it’s only going to get that much better,” Scheller says.

Bob Hillis, owner and manager of the Orenco Station Grill, also thinks his business will increase.

“I expect it will affect us in a very positive manner. We get a lot of Intel employees as customers now because we’re so close, just one mile away. I expect they’re will be more of the same,” says Hillis.

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.

In addition, some existing employees in Hillsboro will advance in the company, giving them the confidence to sell the homes their families have outgrown over the years and buy larger houses. And businesses around town will expand and even open to serve both the temporary and permanent employees, Crile says.

“The impact on both the residential and commercial markets will be substantial,” says Crile.

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.

The D1X expansion will directly benefit other high tech companies in the region that provide goods and services to Intel. But it will also generate sales at businesses with no direction connection Intel.

A February 2011 economic study commissioned by Intel found the company generated around $17 billion in economic activity in the Portland area in 2009 — including $5 billion in personal income and 81,710 direct and indirect jobs.

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