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Oregon lawmakers to vote on Nike expansion plan

Dec 10, 2012


By The Associated Press

By JONATHAN J. COOPER
OF the Associated Press

SALEM — Athletic footwear and apparel giant Nike Inc. plans to expand its operations in Oregon and hire hundreds of workers but wants the government to promise it won't change the state tax code, prompting a special session of the Legislature.

Gov. John Kitzhaber said he'll call lawmakers together Friday in Salem to create a new law authorizing him to grant Nike's wish.

The company has not specified its expansion plans except to say it would create at least 500 jobs and $150 million in capital investment over five years.

The Legislature is due to meet in its regular annual session beginning Jan. 14, but Kitzhaber said Nike needed certainty sooner. The company was being wooed by other states, he said.

“Getting Oregonians back to work is my top priority,” Kitzhaber said in a news conference.

Nike Inc. employs 44,000 people globally, including 8,000 in Washington County, home to its world headquarters in the Portland suburb of Beaverton.

Nike has been selling off brands and making other moves to focus on its most profitable businesses, which include its namesake Nike brand, Jordan, Converse and Hurley.

It sold its Cole Haan brand to private equity firm Apax Partners for $570 million in November and In October said clothing licensing company Iconix Brand Group Inc. would buy Umbro for $225 million.

Like most consumer product makers, Nike has faced rising costs for packaging, fuel and other raw materials.

In its most recent fiscal first-quarter, net income fell 12 percent as the boost from higher sales was offset by increased costs and ad spending. The company said then it was facing a slowdown of futures order growth, particularly in China. Those are orders from retailers of products that are scheduled for delivery between September 2012 and January 2013.

In November, Nike said it was boosting its dividend payment and planning a two-for-one stock split.

Companies typically split their stocks when they think the price of an individual share has gotten too expensive or if the stock is trading too far above similar companies’ stock. Nike stock is up about 2 percent since the beginning of the year.

Nike built its current headquarters campus in Beaverton in 1990. It had a scuffle with city leaders in 2005 when it filed a lawsuit to find out if Beaverton leaders had plans for annexing company property. A judge found that city officials were in contempt for deliberately withholding public documents from Nike, including a draft annexation plan that showed city leaders considered forcing the company's headquarters into city limits in 2002. Nike got a 35-year exemption from forced annexation in Beaverton.

Either the governor or the Legislature itself can call lawmakers into session at times other than the state Constitution specifies.

For much of the state's history, the Legislature's regular sessions have been held every other year, at the beginning of odd-numbered years. That's the kind of session the Legislature is scheduled to begin early next year.

In recent years, the Legislature has moved to meet annually, running test sessions of briefer sessions in even-numbered years. Those led to voter approval of a constitutional amendment in 2010 that called for annual sessions.

Records list 38 special sessions since Oregon's statehood, ranging from one day on eight occasions to 37 days in 1982.

___

AP writer Tim Fought contributed from Portland and Retail Writer Mae Anderson contributed from New York.

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