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Nike bill's goal: Keeping big business in Oregon

Published On: Dec 11 2012 08:30:14 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 11 2012 08:48:03 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Mackenzie Wilson reports as the possibility of Nike making a pact with the State on tax rules could effect other businesses greatly.

Gov. John Kitzhaber announced Monday Nike's big expansion plans, which could have widespread positive effects on other businesses.

The athletic apparel giant wants to know the state won't change it's tax rules after making a huge investment, and that it will only be taxed in Oregon on its sales in the state. Legislators are likely to go along with the governor.

This is the deal that would be on the table:  Nike needs to generate a minimum of 500 non-minimum wage jobs and invest more than $150 million over the next five years. In exchange -- Oregon would promise to not raise the global business's state taxes.

While there are whispers of where an expansion could take Nike, nothing has been confirmed.

The executive director for Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO), Roger Lee, says Tuesday even if Nike stays in Beaverton, it will have statewide effects.

"There's lots of Nike retirees here in Central Oregon, so there's definitely a trickle down," Lee said. "People start new companies who are no longer with Nike, so yeah, it's a big deal for Oregon."

Nike is one of only two Fortune 500 companies in Oregon, the other is Precision Castparts. The metal component manufacturing company is based in the Portland area, but also has a plant in Redmond.

"The presence of that company here obviously has a lot to do with the manufacturing plant in Redmond, so to the degree that we can grow and keep large businesses in the state, I think it will help all communities," Lee said.

With other states trying to woo Nike away from Oregon, Lee believes keeping big business here can't be stressed enough.

He's not alone.

"For a state like Oregon with serious budget constraints, this is a powerful new economic development tool that doesn't require the expenditure of revenue to implement it," Kitzhaber said Monday.

At his press conference, the governor told reporters Oregon isn't like California or New York -- both states that he believes have the resources to bring in new companies. Kitzhaber wants legislators to focus on keeping what we have here.

"The company is rapidly growing. They have to expand, and they have to do it soon," Kitzhaber said.

The proposed tax agreement with Nike and other companies who meet the requirements would not change any current tax rules. But it is a promise to keep things the same -- and that could change everything.

Lee told NewsChannel 21 other companies that may be keeping a close eye on how this all turns out include Adidas, Columbia and Intel.

A legislative committee will hear public testimony Thursday on that bill sought by Nike. The newly created joint special committee on economic development will meet at 9 a.m. in Salem.

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