Beaverton will administrate tax abatement program for expanding Tigard businesses

What business-generating tools are good for Beaverton are good for Tigard too.

That was the feeling during a joint meeting between Beaverton and Tigard city councils on Tuesday night as the two entities agreed to establish a collaborative Enterprise Zone along the cities’ shared Highway 217 border.

The Tigard City Council agreed last week to pursue a state of Oregon-sponsored business tax-abatement zone to be administrated by the city of Beaverton. Following a presentation by Lloyd Purdy, the city of Tigard’s economic development director, and Alma Flores, Beaverton’s economic development manager, the council informally agreed to co-sponsor an expanded E-zone, which Flores’ office would administrate.

“We’re the administrative body that extends the tool to Tigard,” Flores explained.

For its trouble, Beaverton would retain fees businesses pay to apply for the E-zone credits.

“This is a particularly inviting proposal for that collaboration,” Flores noted. “It’s much needed from an economic development standpoint.”

Because Beaverton co-sponsors the zone area with Washington County already, adding Tigard’s swath would be a relatively seamless change.

“As long as we are making sure the amount of work being done on Tigard’s portion of the E-zone is tracked, I think that’s the way we should go,” said Beaverton City Councilor Marc San Soucie.

Administered by the state-run Business Oregon, E-zones allow companies that commit to at least $1 million in investment and payroll expansion to receive three to five years of property tax abatement. Beaverton’s first E-zones were approved in July 2012 and expanded in early 2013 to include industrial- and commercially zoned land adjacent to the Nike World Headquarters as well as segments between Walker and Jenkins roads and Hall Boulevard and Denney Road.

Separated by Highway 217 at Beaverton’s southeastern corner, the proposed zone for Tigard and Beaverton to share includes an industrial area Tigard officials would like to see economically revitalized.

“It’s a very inclusive zone,” Purdy said, pointing out areas of “potential economic hardship” on a map. “The city of Beaverton zone comes right up to the northwest edge and practically kisses our zone. It would be contiguous.”

The connective arrangement allows the cities to collaborate on attracting new businesses to the shared area.

Tigard City Councilor Jason Snider was among those who pointed out the invisibility of borders between neighboring Westside cities.

“Our whole area works as one,” he said. “It doesn’t even make sense to compete for businesses in our region. We’re competing with Phoenix, not Hillsboro ... This is just a huge web of interconnectivity. It doesn’t make sense to think of things in little units.”

Beaverton City Councilor Ian King agreed.

“The (cities) are getting closer, not just operationally, but practically,” he said. “There is kind of that ‘rising tide floats all boats’ idea here. When folks are going shopping, they don’t say, ‘OK, we’re leaving Beaverton, so we’re stopping now.’”

Joking to Flores that the extra work in the collaboration would fall to her office rather than his, Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle literally gave a “thumbs-up” to the E-zone proposal.

“It’s not painful,” he quipped. “Come on, I don’t have to do it. No, I think it makes a whole lot of sense for whole lot of reasons.

“It’s work,” Doyle added, “but it’s work that’s well worth the effort.”

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