Integra's major announcement on Wednesday that it will move its corporate headquarters to east Vancouver creates a bevy of winners, and many will be described below. But at the top of that list is the Clark County community.This is more than just a triumph in local economic development. Indirectly, it's a victory over Portland, which according to The Oregonian, has lost eight corporate headquarters to various other cities since 2000, including the 2008 shift to this side of the river by Northwest Pipe Co.
Regional officials will cheer the fact that Integra, a large telecommunications company, will remain in the greater Portland-Vancouver area. But this week there's a lot more cheering in Vancouver than in Portland. The Oregonian's Mike Rogoway reports the decision by Integra -- "among the very biggest businesses headquartered in Portland" -- to move 500 employees to Vancouver "represents a notable setback for Portland's efforts to project an attractive image to businesses and develop a robust technology cluster."
Meanwhile, what will transpire in Vancouver at the SEH America Inc. property (formerly the Hewlett-Packard campus) "represents an enormous coup. Integra will be among the biggest companies headquartered in the city, and one of Clark County's largest for-profit employers," Rogoway added.
Congratulations, therefore, to Integra officials for their exquisitely good taste and financial wisdom. Advantages for the company include consolidation of several offices into a single site. We'll toss in our prediction of a soaring company morale as the headquarters are relocated to a vibrant community with a lofty quality of life.
Kudos, as well, to officials at the Columbia River Economic Development Council who answered Integra's call and worked alongside Greater Portland Inc. to encourage Integra's decision.
Other big winners:
Clark County's reputation. We're playing in the big leagues now, evidenced by the fact that this same SEH property was considered by Nike when the Oregon-based company looked to expand. Integra has 1,763 employees in several different cities. Telecommunications is an emerging-technology industry, with a bright long-term outlook.
Hundreds of Integra employees who work in Portland and live in Washington and will now see their workplace move to their own community. Imagine their improved commute. Consider, too, their major economic benefit of no longer having to pay income taxes to a state in which they don't live.
SEH America Inc. now has a second major tenant for its 174 acres at 18110 S.E. 34th St. Starting next year, Evergreen Public Schools also will use other buildings on the campus as an interim Crestline Elementary School while a new school is built. Industry observers believe Integra's lease likely extends over several years.
We hope Integra's decision sets the stage for corporations to relocate headquarters to Clark County. When the growth of jobs matches the growth of residential development, the local economy will finally be on the right trajectory.