By Mike Rogoway

The Oregonian

Amazon says it will double the size of its downtown tech hub, adding 400 jobs in a new office across the street from its existing site.

The news isn’t a surprise. Amazon leased 84,000 square feet in the new Broadway Tower building last year, making room for a significant expansion.

Still, Wednesday’s announcement is the latest sign of revival in Oregon’s tech sector, even as the broader state economy cools.

Amazon’s Portland operations date to 2015, when it paid $296 million for Portland startup Elemental Technology. Founded in 2006 by Jesse Rosenzweig, Brian Lewis and longtime CEO Sam Blackman, Elemental made software to adapt sports, TV shows and other video to stream online.

Seattle-based Amazon folded Elemental into its Amazon Web Services cloud computing business and renamed the company AWS Elemental.

It moved the company into a building formerly occupied by The Oregonian near Portland State University.

It will retain that office as it expands across the street into the newly opened Broadway Tower, which also houses a Radisson Hotel.

Amazon said it is expanding to hire software developers and architects, product managers, information technology professionals and others in the new site. The company says it has 18 similar tech hubs across the country.

Amazon said it has added 3,500 Oregon jobs this decade. Most of those workers are in the company’s warehouses, in Troutdale, Hillsboro, Portland and Salem. The company also has large data centers in Morrow County and nearby parts of Eastern Oregon.

The warehouses and data centers were underwritten by millions of dollars in tax breaks, but Amazon said it received no incentives for its Portland expansion.

After two slow years, Oregon’s tech economy resumed rapid expansion in 2018. Technology is the state’s most vibrant industry, paying a wage of more than $115,000. That’s over double the state average.

Intel has just begun work on a multibillion-dollar expansion of its D1X research factory in Hillsboro, which will employ thousands of construction workers over the next few years and add 1,750 jobs.

Chip industry supplier Edwards Vacuum said last week it will add 100 jobs at a new Hillsboro factory, and a Japanese company broke ground this summer on a $100 million factory nearby.

Oregon’s jobless rate is at a historic low of 4%, but there are signs the broader state economy is slowing as concerns mount about the national picture.

Oregon averaged just 1.6% job growth over the past 16 months, according to the Oregon Employment Department, down significantly from 2.2% in 2017 and 2.4% in 2016.

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