Nike expansion: Company executives and Portland Mayor Charlie Hales meet with city commissioners

Nike expansion: Company executives and Portland Mayor Charlie Hales meet with city commissioners

April 04–Nike is still considering expanding to Portland, with activity at City Hall this week serving as a key indicator.

Company executives met with three of Portland’s four city commissioners in individual meetings Monday. Making things even more interesting: Portland Mayor Charlie Hales was there for each session, his office said Thursday.

The sportswear giant, one of Oregon’s two Fortune 500 companies, won long-term tax assurances from the Oregon Legislature last year and is now considering expansion options near its existing Washington County headquarters or in Portland.

Hales’ office, in conjunction with the Portland Development Commission, is leading talks in Portland. Nike may be interested in expanding to the South Waterfront, although the Conway site in Northwest Portland also has been mentioned. Property tax abatements or urban renewal funding could be in play, depending on the location.

Nike spokeswoman Mary Remuzzi confirmed that Nike asked for the meetings but said the company regularly speaks with elected officials. She wouldn’t say if the company has met with a majority of decision-makers in Washington County or Beaverton, as it now has in Portland.

“We have not made a decision about where our expansion will occur,” Remuzzi said in an email.

Julia Brim-Edwards, Nike’s lobbyist, and Jim Eddy, vice president for global real estate, met with commissioners Dan Saltzman, Amanda Fritz and Steve Novick. By meeting in pairs, instead of groups of three, Hales and commissioners didn’t violate public meeting laws.

Commissioners were required to sign non-disclosure agreements, similar to ones used last year with state and city officials for Nike’s code-named “Project Impact.” Commissioner Nick Fish didn’t sign an agreement or meet with Nike.

The City Hall shuffle has similarities to May 2011, when former Mayor Sam Adams shopped his SoloPower deal — which included tax abatements to lure the manufacturer to Portland — in succession to city commissioners.

Novick on Thursday declined to directly answer questions about his meeting, other than to say it lasted about 45 minutes.

Was the conversation about locating in Portland? “About really important stuff,” Novick responded.

Did Nike officials say they want to locate offices in Portland? “It would be really nice,” he said, “if they located in Portland.”

— Brad Schmidt

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