Could Nike's expansion happen in Portland?

Could Nike's expansion happen in Portland? »Play Video
The Nike Campus in Beaverton.

PORTLAND, Ore. – During a hearing in the Capitol on Thursday, Gov. John Kitzhaber pushed for the state's tax code to remain unchanged for Nike in the hope the company will expand in Oregon, and as he did so, the possibility of that expansion occurring in Portland began to emerge.

Nike won't confirm where it plans to expand, but it's looking good for Portland.

For economist Joe Cortright, it's not a tough equation. He confidently predicted Thursday Nike will expand in Portland, citing a national trend.

"Twitter, which was in Silicon Valley, moving into San Francisco into the downtown; Google's mobile operations are moving into downtown Chicago," he said.

And if Nike follows suit, it's to follow qualified workers.

"Young people, particularly 25- to 34-year-olds with a college degree that we call the young and restless are moving to urban centers," Cortright said.

Another sign pointing to Portland comes from KATU news partner Willamette Week. The paper reported multiple sources indicating an "undisclosed subplot to the (statewide) deal ... that "Nike is considering a major investment in Portland."

In the WW article, sources mentioned two possible sites for Nike expansion. One of them is in Northwest Portland on the Con-Way campus and the other is along the south waterfront in an area where on Thursday the Portland City Council took action to expand development.

A map from the Portland Development Commission (below) shows the area around the Ross Island Bridge that City Council has expanded for property tax exemption.

But so far city officials haven't confirmed any talks with Nike and some people don't want those talks to happen at all, citing too much government and too many deals with big corporations.

Cortright’s answer to the concerns of critics? "Well, I think you have to look at the terms of the deal, and you have to decide whether what you're giving up is worth what you're getting."

One Nike expansion that is happening comes in the form of local startups. Nike announced plans to support ten startups in Portland that will develop technology for its Nike+ brand.

The company says this is separate from the investment it's talking about with the state, but according to Cortright and a local startup expert, it is still significant for long-term economic growth in the city.