Nike Throws Its Weight Around in Oregon

Oregon’s governor, John Kitzhaber, has called the legislature into a special session on Friday in order to discuss the relationship that the state will maintain between its tax code and the corporations that operate there.

At least, ostensibly that’s what Kitzhaber and his legislature will debate. In reality, they are weighing a unique request from the world’s largest sneaker maker, Nike Inc. (NYSE:NKE), which was founded in the state and is headquartered there. Nike wants the state legislature to legally guarantee that the method of determining corporate taxes will not change for a period of up to 40 years, and in return the company will expand its operations in the state with a $150 million investment over five years, and create about 500 new jobs.

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As with pretty much any issue that has one foot in government and one foot in business, there is both vehement support and opposition for this proposal. The rate of unemployment in Oregon is 8.7 percent, coming in above the national rate of 7.7 percent. Oregon, as Kitzhaber argues, has to do something to attract business.

“We don’t have the magnitude of resources available to a state like New York or California with which to woo companies,” said the governor at a legislative hearing on Thursday, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Nike didn’t threaten to leave but said if you wanted to act right away we will commit to keeping the new expansion in Oregon.”