Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny have made a $400 million investment in Portland as the Oregon city battles increasing retail crime.
According to a statement, the new investment will go to the Rebuild Albina project of the newly established 1803 Fund. The project aims to transform current and future generations of the Black community in Portland through investments in education, place and culture and belonging in the Albina area.
To lead this action, Rukaiyah Adams has been appointed to head the 1803 Fund, which will also be overseen by a board of directors filled with deep and long standing roots in the business, non-profit and Albina communities. Board members include Tony Hopson, founder and CEO of Self-Enhancement Inc; Ron Herndon, founder of the Portland chapter of the Black United Front and CEO of Albina Head Start; John Donahoe, Nike CEO; and Larry Miller, chairman of Nike’s Michael Jordan Brand.
Knight said in a statement that he and his wife have “long believed” in the community of Portland.
“Some of my most important memories are connected to the east side of Portland, including in Lower Albina,” Knight said. “Jefferson High School, under the leadership of coaches Bill Sorsby and Doug Basham, was the center of the ‘all comers’ track meets of my youth. The handshake deal with Bill Bowerman that launched Nike happened in Lower Albina near Memorial Coliseum. And Lower Albina was the focus of the initial agreement struck with Ron Herndon and Tony Hopson to build a Nike retail store with a share of the profits invested back into the community.”
According to the 1803 Fund, the Albina community has long been a vital regional economic and transportation hub and a place of business and commerce, social and cultural institutions, and homeownership for Portland’s Black community. As with many other neighborhoods in America, redlining and predatory lending, combined with “urban renewal” displaced Black families and businesses, destroying wealth and portions of the urban landscape, the Fund said.
“Black people have always been central to Portland’s economic success, but have rarely had access to the benefits and advantages that enable wealth creation and collective wellbeing,” added Herndon. “The Rebuild Albina project hopes to change that trajectory.”
This investment comes as some retailers – including Nike – wind down their businesses in Portland amid waves of crime.
Last week, REI confirmed it will close its downtown Portland, Ore., location in early 2024 amid increased crime in the store’s Pearl District neighborhood.
In March, Walmart confirmed it would close the last two of its stores in Portland by March 24. Walmart’s U.S. communications director said these stores, located at Hayden Meadows and East Port Plaza, were underperforming and did not confirm if the closures were a result of increased retail crime in the city.
A Nike Community Store in Northeast Portland was also reportedly impacted by waves of crime in the region, which likely prompted the closure of the store for weeks, between October and November, KGW8 reported.
In February, Nike asked Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler to station off-duty police officers as a security measure for the store, The Oregonian reported. Wheeler declined, though outlined a plan to introduce increased safety measures in the area and asked Nike and other retailers to step up their own security measures.
In recent weeks, Portland police have heightened efforts to crack down on organized retail theft via specifically targeted operations in areas of high theft.