Portland telecom company to bring hundreds of jobs to Vancouver

Integra will consolidate operations on old HP campus

By Cami Joner and Gordon Oliver

Published:

Updated: April 10, 2013, 7:58 PM

 
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Portland-based telecommunications company Integra announced Wednesday that it will move its headquarters and at least 500 employees next year from Portland to the former Hewlett-Packard campus in east Vancouver, providing a boost in jobs and confidence to Clark County.

Integra said it will occupy 85,000 square feet at the former Hewlett-Packard campus at 18110 S.E. 34th St. The company said it will begin building renovation this year with the goal of beginning its operations in Vancouver in June 2014.

Jesse Selnick, the company’s chief financial officer, said the expansive Vancouver site allows the company to bring all employees into a single building, called Building 1, instead of the two buildings it now occupies in Portland’s Lloyd District.

“Our number one objective is that we wanted all area employees to be under one roof,” Selnick told The Columbian. “It affects how we communicate. There’s a cultural benefit for us all to be together.”

The move works for company employees as well, Selnick said. About half of the affected employees already live in Washington, and the company has some early roots in Vancouver from its purchase in 2006 of a company called Electric Lightwave.

The company has 1,763 employees company-wide, including 577 in Oregon and 126 in Vancouver. The employees already working in Vancouver will not relocate to the new building, Selnick said. Some local sales employees will remain in Portland, and the company will maintain Oregon offices in Salem, Eugene, Bend and Lake Oswego. The employees coming to Vancouver work in a wide variety of executive, finance, technical, sales and support positions, Selnick said.

The company provides businesses with advanced networking, communications and technology solutions in 35 metropolitan markets. Its fiber-optic network connects directly to 2,300 enterprise buildings and data centers. The privately held company reported $594 million in revenue in fiscal year 2012.

Integra said it conducted an extensive search that included sites in Southwest and Northeast Portland as well as Vancouver. Possible incentives for the company to move or stay in Portland were discussed, Selnick said, but were not a factor in the company’s decision to move. “This wasn’t an incentive-driven decision,” he said.

The company had moved to Portland from Hillsboro in 2004 after receiving assistance from the Portland Development Commission.

Lisa Nisenfeld, president of the Vancouver-based Columbia River Economic Development Council, said it’s important that Integra is staying in the Portland-Vancouver region. She said the company approached the CREDC about relocating a portion of its workforce to Clark County.

“We’re thrilled to have them in our community,” Nisenfeld said.

SEH America Inc. purchased Hewlett-Packard’s sprawling campus, with 735,000 square feet of office space on 174 acres, in 2009 in a $55 million transaction. The company floated the idea of establishing a solar facility on the site. But SEH, a subsidiary of Japan’s Shin-Etsu Handotai Group, put its plans for the HP property on hold as the world economy declined. HP continued to lease the site and four buildings until 2012, when it quietly moved into the Columbia Center at Columbia Tech Center in east Vancouver.

The Integra announcement is the second recent sign of renewed life for the long-dormant SEH site. On Tuesday, Evergreen School District said it is likely to secure space at the SEH America campus as a temporary home for Crestline Elementary School, which was recently destroyed by fire. The school would occupy the 165,000 square-foot Building 2. The site’s four buildings have 735,000 square feet.

The SEH property was also considered by Nike when the Oregon-based company quietly floated the idea of an expansion outside of Oregon. That idea died when the Oregon Legislature moved quickly late last year to approve tax provisions favorable to the company.

Integra’s move is a bit of a downsize for the company. It now occupies 120,000 square feet of office space in its two Portland buildings. Selnick said the company has excess space, as well as some inefficient space, at its present location.

Selnick wouldn’t disclose either the time period or the square-foot cost of its lease for the SEH site. Portland-based Cushman & Wakefield commercial real estate company has been marketing the SEH facilities at an office leasing rate of $10 per square foot, according to a flier issued by the firm. Eric Fuller, president of Eric Fuller & Associates commercial real estate firm in Vancouver, said that rate is about 50 percent lower than rates typically offered in Portland’s main commercial business district.

Fuller said the building could become an appealing home for the technology company.

“With some imagination, it’s a very, very pleasant place,” Fuller said.

Fuller speculated that Integra signed on to lease the office space for at least five to 10 years, which he said means SEH America has no immediate plans for the site. He said leasing the space out for several years will give the property time to appreciate in value.

Aaron Corvin contributed to this story.