Oregon’s Largest Private Company Shuttered Acres of Office Space
Nike recently announced that it is abandoning its Beaverton office space due to market disruptions courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the official campus remains intact for the time being, this decision will result in 280,000 sq. ft. of shuttered office space. Is this exodus a blessing or a curse? The answer depends on your role within the community.
Increased Opportunity in Oregon
As Nike’s monopoly in Oregon’s commercial real estate market dwindles, opportunity opens up for local and incoming businesses alike. Portland has been projected as the next big startup scene and has even been nicknamed the Silicon Forest for its high concentration of tech jobs and companies. In fact, many prominent corporations including Google, Apple, and Amazon have opened Oregon offices over the last few years, and Microsoft recently leased an 84,000 square foot space in Hillsboro. Despite this growth, roughly 15% of Portland-area office space remains vacant. Now could be the perfect time for an innovative company to snatch up state-of-the-art commercial real estate, opening the door for more jobs and an enhanced working experience. Nike’s headquarters specifically is touted for its bells and whistles, including an Olympic-sized swimming pool and track and sports courts, and the space it's leaving behind is likely just as lavish. Laps during lunch, anyone?
Last year, Oregon also ranked fifth in terms of having the most small business firms and workers across the nation. Of the state’s nearly 1.6 million workers, more than half are employed by small business firms. With a monolith like Nike moving out, these companies and individuals could also take advantage of the freed-up, state-of-the-art office space.
Nike’s Economic Impact
The downside to Nike moving out is, of course, the fact that less capital will funnel into the local economy as a result. While much of the headquarters remains intact, Nike is the largest private company based in Oregon and has donated $4 million dollars in product, $45 million in cash, and forged partnerships with 1,000 local nonprofit and educational organizations over the years. Although the company employed more than 12,000 Oregonians pre-pandemic, the past few months have also seen layoffs and downsizing. With fewer employees and shrinking in-office real estate, Beaverton businesses that rely on the workers’ foot traffic, including restaurants, retailers, and hotels, could also suffer.
Nike’s move is also a symptom of a larger problem. Oregon is experiencing record deficits in office space occupancy with little sign of things turning around. While Oregon and the Portland area haven’t been as hard hit as other tech hubs, like San Francisco and New York City, permanent work from home policies could erode the dense city center and strain city budgets through diminished commuter revenue and commercial real estate profits. Portland’s Silicon Forest reputation could pose a problem as well, as tech jobs including computers and IT are more likely to remain remote.
What Can Oregon Do to Mitigate Nike’s Impact?
Like it or not, Nike’s move illustrates the gravity of our new reality. Remote work is likely here to stay, particularly in tech-focused metros like Portland. As such, communities across the nation will need to find ways to adapt and adjust. To mitigate the negative economic impact, give your local state representative a call and advocate for local businesses. Or, attend a local meeting and help find new and exciting ways to stimulate the economy while working from home. With Oregon’s innovative collective mind, there’s no limit to the good that could come from this move.
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