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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Kitzhaber Calls Special Session, Eyes Nike Expansion

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers will convene in Special Session this Friday. Governor John Kitzhaber announced Monday that the session is urgently needed to facilitate a major expansion of Oregon-based Nike.

Nike says it is on the verge of an expansion of its Oregon operations that could affect the Northwest economy. Kitzhaber says it would means thousands of new jobs with an economic impact of more than $2 billion over the next eight years. But Nike executives told the governor that other states would be just as happy to host the expansion. So Kitzhaber wants lawmakers to let him sign a contract with the sports apparel giant assuring the company that the state won't change its corporate taxes in the near future.

"There's no question that the sense of urgency for having the legislature in has to do with this particular company, but this is a policy that makes a great deal of sense. And I think it allows Oregon to sort of stand apart," Kitzhaber said.

The governor also called it "an extraordinary opportunity."

"For a state like Oregon that has serious budget constraints, this is a powerful new economic development tool that does not require the expenditure of new revenue in order to implement it."

Legislative leaders from both parties have expressed support for the governor's proposal. It's the first time an Oregon governor has called a special session since April of 2006.