Vestas To Keep HQ In Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Vestas Wind Systems, the world's largest wind turbine maker, ended concerns it might leave Oregon by announcing Wednesday it will keep its North American headquarters in Portland.

The Denmark-based company plans to turn a vacant warehouse in the city's upscale Pearl District into its new, 172,000-square-foot headquarters. The $66 million project is expected to create about 500 construction jobs, and Vestas promised to add 100 employees to its Portland work force over the next five years.

Vestas moved to Portland from Southern California in 2002. Losing the headquarters would have been difficult for a state with a 10.6 percent unemployment rate and for government officials who take pride in touting Oregon as a hub for renewable energy.

"This is much more than just a building," Gov. Ted Kulongoski said at a news conference, where he was joined by Portland Mayor Sam Adams and Vestas Americas President Martha Wyrsch. "This is a statement about who we are as a state and as a city. It is a statement about Oregon's commitment to renewable energy and energy independence for this country."

Wyrsch, in an interview, identified Colorado, Texas and Washington as other states the company considered for its headquarters. Colorado was rumored to be a prime candidate because Vestas has three manufacturing plants there and is adding a research and development office.

To entice Vestas to stay in Portland, the state offered $2.25 million in incentives and the city provided an $8 million, zero-interest loan. Vestas must repay the state $1 million if it does not retain its existing 400 Portland employees and add another 100 jobs.

The mayor said Vestas put the city "through the ringer" in its effort to get the best site for its headquarters. He said Portland won the competition despite other communities offering more generous subsidies.

"If we had lost Vestas, it would have been a huge blow," Adams said. "This is one of the first sustainable energy companies that we were able to attract to the city. To lose them would have left a big void."

Shares of Vestas, which trade on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange, plunged 23 percent Wednesday after the company reported a quarterly loss. Wyrsch said the company had a decline in orders heading into 2010 because of the financial crisis, but a rebound is under way.

"The first half of 2010 has been a rough half, and it's been for many companies," she said.

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