Nike expansion: Could it involve U.S. manufacturing?
By Erik Siemers
Nike's Flyknit technology prompted some industry observers to wonder if the footwear and apparel giant would start moving manufacturing to the U.S.
Nike Inc. this week said it would expand in Oregon creating at least 500 new jobs within the next five years pending the passage of a critical piece of legislation Friday.
The athletic footwear and apparel company (NYSE: NKE), which employs around 8,000 in Washington County, has said tantalizingly little about what that expansion would involve. At the most, the company said it needs room to grow and to accomodate its already overcrowded work force.
Could this expansion also be an opportunity bring some of its product manufacturing to the U.S.?
Nike has long been the subject of speculation over whether it may one day bring manufacturing back to U.S. soil. Almost all of the company’s products are made overseas. Its apparel production is spread across 28 countries while its footwear is made primarily in Vietnam, China and Indonesia.
It’s not that well known that Nike already does some manufacturing in Oregon.
The company notes in Securities & Exchange filings that it manufactures Air-Sole cushioning materials and components through its independent subsidiary Nike IHM Inc. — IHM being an acronym, appropriately, for In-House Manufacturing — which has factories Beaverton and St. Charles, Mo. Nike owns those factories.
A website for Nike IHM indicates Nike Inc. is its largest customer, though most of its growth comes from supplying plastics products to other customers.
But manufacturing at any significant scale in Oregon is a bit of a long shot. Based on what little the company has said, the expansion at hand will mostly likely involve the construction of new office space. That's an outcome that is even more likely should speculation that Nike is eyeing expansion into Portland — as reported Wednesday by Willamette Week — turn out to be true.
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