Employees of the telecommunications firm Integra, which recently moved its headquarters to Vancouver, enjoyed a warm community welcome Wednesday afternoon under sunny skies at their expansive campus-style offices at 18110 S.E. 34th St. in east Vancouver.
Mayor Tim Leavitt offered an official welcome to Integra employees who recently moved from Portland’s Lloyd District to the first floor of Building One on the former Hewlett-Packard campus. Dozens of businesses and community organizations set up booths along the walkways and lawns to offer employees and their families information about everything from local parks and schools to custom homes. Local jazz band UpFront added energy with live music.
Some 450 employees work at the new 80,000-square-foot headquarters, which offers a stark contrast to the company’s former urban setting. There, Integra employees were spread out in several locations, with headquarters in a multistory office building near Interstate 84 and TriMet’s MAX line. In Vancouver, employees have plenty of space and facilities for basketball, volleyball and even horseshoes. But it’s a drive to 164th or 192nd avenues for those looking for places to eat lunch.
Leavitt described Integra’s recent move to its new location as a homecoming for many employees. The company acquired Vancouver-based Electric Lightwave in 2006 and, as a result, has a large contingent of Southwest Washington residents in its workforce.
“We want you to feel at home,” Leavitt said. “We want you to feel that this is the place you want to be.”
Rogier Ducloo, Integra’s vice president of marketing, said the transition has gone smoothly for the company and the bulk of its employees. “I’m amazed at how quickly people have settled into the place,” Ducloo said. Employee reaction to the new location has been “overwhelmingly positive,” he said.
“A good share live in Vancouver already, and that percentage will only get bigger,” Ducloo added.
Those employees benefit from no longer having to pay Oregon income tax and fight traffic going to and from work. But employees from more distant Portland suburbs now have long commutes that cannot easily be made by transit, and one employee at the fair noted that some left the company rather than move to the new location. Some Integra sales staff continue to work in Portland, said Taylor Goldsmith, the company’s community manager.
The 114-acre property, which offers some 735,000 square feet of leasable building space in three main buildings, is owned by SEH, the Japan-based wafer manufacturer that operates a manufacturing plant in Vancouver. That’s about three-quarters of the amount of space in Westfield Vancouver mall. Integra holds a right to expand into Building One’s second floor. Another building this year served as temporary home for the Evergreen School District’s Crestline Elementary School, which was destroyed by fire in February 2013. Crestline students will return to a new, permanent building next school year.
Broker Adam Roselli of the Eric Fuller & Associates commercial real estate firm says he is showing the site to prospective tenants who are “blown away” by the size of the property and the adaptability of the buildings. Roselli, who is representing SEH, said the site’s market potential is for high-technology manufacturers who can take advantage of its abundant water supply and relatively inexpensive power. The property is being marketed to firms who need at least 80,000 square feet of space, he said.
“Overall, our prospects have been from outside the metro area,” said Roselli. While not offering any specifics, he said he is in promising discussions with one company from outside the region that says it will decide in a month or two whether it has an interest in the property.
“It seems like our plant makes a lot of sense to them,” Roselli said of the unnamed prospect.