SoloPower story highlights 'coopetition'
By Andy Giegerich
Business Journal staff writer
SoloPower's destination change — from Wilsonville to Portland — shines a light on the business recruitment process.
Portland quickly devised an incentive package consisting of enterprise zone tax abatements and an innovative loan guarantee.
Knapp, whose city doesn’t qualify for the state’s enterprise zone option because it’s too affluent, said Oregon’s system favors cities like Portland. Enterprise zones exempt businesses from local property taxes on new plants and equipment for three to five years.
“It’s no news to anyone that (regional economic development efforts) have been Portland-centric because, with its large population and bigger business landscape, it has more buildings available,” he said. “But Portland has an enterprise zone. Hillsboro has an enterprise zone, too. So we’re working with one hand tied behind our back.”
Portland’s overall package allows for tax abatements on 85 percent of SoloPower’s capital expenditures over five years. The total abatements come to $15.2 million on $271 million worth of capital expenditures.
The city also tossed in a $5 million loan guarantee, from the Oregon Department of Energy’s State Energy Loan Program, backed by parking meter revenue.
Wilsonville’s package actually topped Portland’s offer because the smaller city offered a $10 million loan guarantee, through a federal Department of Agriculture program, along with the $11 million in tax abatements and cash. The agriculture program is available only in rural areas.
Portland’s City Council unanimously approved the SoloPower package Wednesday afternoon.
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