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Kitzhaber calls special session for Nike

Citing a “sense of urgency,” Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber said Monday that he will call a special session of the Legislature on Friday to help Nike expand its employment in the state.

Speaking to reporters in Salem, Kitzhaber said Nike plans to create up to 12,000 jobs by 2020 and is being recruited by other states to move its headquarters. Kitzhaber said Nike promised to stay in Oregon if the state would sign an agreement that its current tax structure will not change for the foreseeable future.

“Nike is a growing company that is being heavily recruited by other states. It is prepared to sign an agreement now to stay here if we give them certainty about the tax situation,” Kitzhaber said.

Don Blair, Chief Financial Officer for NIKE, Inc., issued a statement supporting the proposal.

"Nike is a global company with a long history in Oregon. We support this proposed legislation as a way to help us continue to grow in Oregon," Blair said .

According to Kitzhaber, Nike’s planned expansion would generate $2 billion a year in new economic activity, including $490 million worth of construction jobs.

Kitzhaber will ask the Legislature to create a new economic development tool that gives the Oregon Department of Revenue the ability to enter into agreements with companies interested in investing in the state that their tax situation will not change. Kitzhaber said the companies must agree to invest a mininium of $150 million in Oregon over five years and create a minimum of 500 family-wage jobs to qualify.

Nike spokeswoman Mary Remuzzi says the company will commit to those minimuums.

"We agree the Economic Impact Investment Act would provide businesses with the certainty needed to consider major investments in the State of Oregon. If the legislation is passed and an agreement with Governor Kitzhaber is signed, Nike would commit to expansion plans with a minimum of 500 jobs and $150 million in capital investment over five years," Remuzzi said in a prepared statment.

Kitzhaber said Nike officials had approached him about the arrangement about 30 days ago. Kitzhaber said he had subsequenbtly talked with the leaders of the Legislature about it, and they were agreeable.

Friday, Dec. 14, is the first day that a quorum can be available, Kitzhaber said.

Nike's World Headquarters with more than 8,000 jobs in located Washington County near Beaverton. Since 2007, Nike's employment in Oregon has grown by nearly 60 percent despite declining statewide employment. Nike's average income for all employment is over $100,000, approximately double the region and state average. The company has leased more than 400,000 square feet of additional space in office buildings near its headquarters in recent years.

Kitzhaber said he did not know where Nike planned to expand it Oregon. It owns unused property adjacent to its headquarters, however.

Legislative leaders were quick to indicate their support for the proposal. Shortly after the announcement, House Co-Speaker Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg) issued a statement which said, “Not enough has been done to create an environment for robust economic growth and job creation in Oregon. The legislation we will move during the special session is a simple way to create enormous long-term benefit for our state, its people and its economy. While special sessions are never ideal, this opportunity for Oregon demands immediate action."

Hanna also said, "Providing greater certainty in tax policy for a company interested in investing $150 million or more is a step in the right direction for creating a better climate for industry within our state. I am pleased to be a part of this discussion and support the idea of a session to move this legislation forward.”

And House-nominee Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) issued a statement which said, “We’re doing everything we can to create and retain quality jobs, while ensuring we have an open and transparent conversation. Job creation is a top priority. We’re going to have an open process to make sure we are growing Oregon businesses and jobs in Oregon.”

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain also issued a statement in support of the proposal. It said, "We applaud the Governor's continued work to bring good jobs to Oregon — jobs that Oregonians can build into careers, and that can strengthen our economy and provide a better future for our children. We are glad to see Nike growing in Oregon, and hope that they remain committed to bringing Oregon up with their new project — from the first jobs building their new facilities, to the permanent new jobs they create here."

Chamberlain's statement continued, "We'll be working with the Governor and the Legislature through this proposal and throughout the Legislative session to ensure that Oregon employers are creating the good jobs we need to make our state stronger."




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