The relocation of at least 500 people employed by the telecom firm Integra from Portland to a portion of the former Hewlett-Packard campus in Vancouver may be a harbinger of additional lease deals at the 735,000-square-foot site at 18110 S.E. 34th St.
“I think we’ve got a lot going for that site,” said Lisa Nisenfeld, president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council, which began working with Integra to find its new space more than a year and a half ago. “I think you’ll see more development there in the coming year.”
Integra, which provides businesses with advanced networking, communications and technology solutions in 35 metropolitan markets, expects to begin operations inside 85,000 square feet of the former HP site in June 2014. Its new location, Building 1 on the campus, enables the company to largely consolidate its Portland-area staff from multiple current locations into a single facility when the company’s current leases expire in 2014.
The former HP site, now owned by SEH America Inc., is “a great facility,” Nisenfeld said, in part because it has adequate road and water systems, among other infrastructure needed to support new tenants.
“You can pretty much go in quickly,” Nisenfeld said of the property. And, she added, the city of Vancouver is “very good at processing permits quickly.”
Nisenfeld said Thursday that Integra received no government incentives to relocate from Portland to Vancouver. In an email to The Columbian, Alisa Pyszka, economic development division manager for the city of Vancouver, wrote that “there may be opportunities for workforce grants or improvements to alternative transportation facilities through grant funds.”
Jesse Selnick, chief financial officer for Integra, said in a news release that “consolidating our operations under one roof” will help the company achieve “significant advantages for our business.”
He said the company chose the former HP site, where the amenities include open, collaborative spaces and free parking, after examining other locations in Portland and Vancouver.
The company, which employs a total of 1,763 people, will keep its local sales force in Portland. And the company will maintain other Oregon operations in Salem, Eugene, Bend and Lake Oswego.
In addition to Integra’s planned move to the SEH property, Evergreen Public Schools said it will likely secure space at the site as a temporary home for Crestline Elementary School, which was destroyed by fire on Feb. 3.
The school would occupy the 165,000 square-foot Building 2. The site has four buildings.
The relocation of Integra from Portland to Vancouver comes amid a long-running competition between the two cities — and their respective states, for that matter — to land corporations. Last year, for example, Nike floated the idea of an expansion outside of Oregon. The city of Vancouver, joined by the Columbia River Economic Development Council and the state of Washington, aggressively pursued Nike, including offering the SEH property to the apparel giant.
That idea died when the Oregon Legislature moved quickly late last year to approve tax provisions favorable to the company.
Yet, regional economic development leaders said Thursday the Integra relocation was a matter of making sure the company stayed in the Portland-Vancouver metro area, no matter which city it landed in.
Greater Portland Inc., a Portland-based public-private venture, worked with the cities of Portland, Vancouver and the Vancouver-based Columbia River Economic Development Council to ensure Integra stayed in the region.
It’s a “great example of what can be accomplished when we come together,” Sean Robbins, president and CEO of Greater Portland Inc., said in a news release.
“The City of Vancouver is very pleased Integra is coming to our community to invest in the growth of their business,” Mayor Tim Leavitt said in a news release. “Vancouver is an integral part of the Portland-Vancouver regional economy. Our utmost goal, along with our partners, is to ensure that businesses succeed and thrive here and enhance the community’s quality of life.”
Nisenfeld, who joined the board of Greater Portland Inc. earlier this year, said competition between Portland and Vancouver isn’t going away. But she said groups such as Greater Portland are important to Clark County because they help people understand “that we’re part of the region and not a foreign land.”
And the larger point is that Portland and Vancouver both offer different attractions to potential employers, Nisenfeld said, which is a good thing for the region’s economy. “It’s really a richness that we have that many regions lack,” she said.