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Intel brings huge benefits to area

The Westside is where it’s at.

That was the headline I read in a recent news article detailing why real estate investors are keen on the city of Hillsboro. The story mentioned a series of successes Hillsboro has enjoyed over the past year, and that have positioned our community well for the future.

That economic strength can be seen in tangible benefits, such as the recently expanded Hillsboro Main Library, the soon-to-be renovated Shute Park Library, and the construction of Hillsboro Ballpark, home of the Hillsboro Hops — the metro area’s only professional baseball team.

Of course, longtime Hillsboro residents know our city’s status as the economic engine for the region is not a recent development. Our thriving local economy is the product of years of successful investments, most notably headlined by our largest employer: Intel.

Intel’s 17,000 employees contribute millions of dollars in income taxes that fund education, parks, law enforcement, infrastructure and other vital state services. But Intel’s imprint on our local economy extends far beyond the reach of those 17,000 employees, many of whom call Hillsboro home.

For every Intel job in Hillsboro, three spinoff jobs are created in the region. That’s power. And that economic power is spread throughout our community, region, state and nation.

Every local restaurant, every mom-and-pop store, every small business owner can recognize the impact our high-tech companies have on their bottom line. The infusion of millions of dollars of disposable income into the Hillsboro local economy has left all of us better off. The demand for housing created by thousands of high-paying jobs has helped Hillsboro homeowners recover home values lost during the recession.

Then there is Intel’s direct contribution to improving the quality of life in Hillsboro. Intel has dramatically increased the assessed value from which the city derives property taxes — money that pays for police and fire protection, as well as parks, libraries and other important community programs. Hillsboro residents will see millions of dollars in system development charges paid to the city by Intel translate into improvements to Hillsboro parks.

Intel and its employees have demonstrated their commitment to our community by volunteering more than 39,000 hours in Hillsboro last year alone, including more than 4,600 hours at Century High School. The company matched employees’ volunteering efforts by donating more than $350,000 to Hillsboro organizations in 2012. In addition, Intel has contributed millions of dollars through the Gain Share program that will fund special projects benefiting the city of Hillsboro, Washington County and local school districts.

The company continues to invest millions of dollars in on-site and off-site transportation improvements that are commensurate with the growth Intel is experiencing in our area. That’s not all. Intel contributes millions of dollars in payroll taxes that go to TriMet to offset the cost of operating MAX light rail, buses and other public transportation.

Intel’s commitment to sustainable practices may not receive many headlines, but for five years in a row Intel has topped the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of the largest voluntary purchasers of green power (renewable electricity) in the country. Intel’s commitment to green power has earned Hillsboro national recognition as a top-five green power community.

We can credit Intel for carrying our economy at the local, regional and state level through the recent recession. The many construction jobs created by Intel’s D1X and Mod-2 fabs allowed Hillsboro to grow during the downturn and grow stronger in the ongoing recovery.

As we move forward, I expect Hillsboro and the westside will remain “where it’s at” for many years to come — thanks in large part to our neighbors at Intel.

Jerry Willey is mayor of the city of Hillsboro.




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