Viewpoint: Execs of this former ‘unicorn’ company on not counting Portland out

By John Nee and Dudley Slater

Daunting best describes our decision to move our business to Portland in 2004. Relocating over 100 (initial) jobs, negotiating new office space, securing rights for our advanced fiber network, a location for a state-of-the-art network operations center and locating parking for our vehicle fleet evidenced some of the work ahead. Our initial trepidation soon gave way, though, replaced by an infectious, make-it-work spirit we associate with Portland, ultimately growing the business to employ over 800 jobs in Portland, with over 2,500 jobs nationwide supported by our Portland headquartered company, Integra Telecom.

Today’s realities, marked by businesses of all sizes temporarily shuttered or permanently closed, and seemingly fewer large Portland headquartered companies, begs the question would high growth companies consider moving to Portland today?

In 2004, Portland’s allure made it easier, exciting our workforce. After all, even tech companies like Portland’s bohemian draw. At the same time, real world business needs, like access to technical talent, proximity to air travel, reduced commute times, quality schools, employee quality of life, corporate tax considerations and our need to be contributing members of a desirable community drove our decision to home base in Portland. Funding from Portland Development Commission and other pro-business incentives provided by the City also influenced our decision.

Portland delivered and our company prospered! The Portland Business Journal recognized Integra among the 100 fastest growing private companies in Portland, for over 10 years running, including several prestigious Lighthouse awards, earned by the few companies which maintain this recognition for 5 or more consecutive years. The Company’s $150-million annual payroll and related tax revenues injected countless benefits into the Portland community for years and continues today through its successor company. Our amazing team of Portlanders created the magic.