Intel told its 690 employees at its DuPont site on Monday that it plans to sell the property and lease back enough space to keep its 310-person server development and validation team working at the Pierce County location.
The high-tech company said it will lay off 32 of its DuPont workers and transfer about 350 others to other Intel facilities. Many of those likely will move to Hillsboro, Ore., which is Intel’s largest site and where it employs some 17,000 workers.
The suburban Portland area is the site of nine Intel facilities. It’s the company’s largest concentration of workers.
DuPont Mayor Michael Grayum said in a message on the city’s website that the city will be working with the company to attract potential purchasers to the site.
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The city was notified of the company’s intentions Monday morning just as Intel’s own workers were receiving the news.
But town officials have long suspected Intel might shrink its presence or leave the site completely.
“I’ve been wondering, to be candid, for a long time when they’d make the move,” said Grayum. “They haven’t been using the site to its capacity, and when we asked them about their plans for growth, they didn’t have any.”
Intel was the first major employer to locate in the former company town near Joint Base Lewis-McChord in 1996.
DuPont was originally a company town built to house workers at the nearby E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. explosives plant.
Weyerhaeuser’s real-estate division bought the former plant site and redeveloped it as a planned community. The city, which had a little more than 500 residents when Weyerhaeuser bought the plant site, now has 9,800 residents.
The Intel facility has the capacity to house some 3,000 workers, but it never housed that many.
The Intel facility employment peaked at about 2,000 workers in the late ’90s. The site has been through several downsizing programs since then.
Intel spokesman Jonathan Williams said the company is moving workers to sites where they can work more closely with others doing similar work.
“In many cases, the rest of their team and their manager weren’t even on the site,” he said.
Intel hasn’t set a timeline for sale of the facilities and the 185-acre site. In previous Intel plant consolidations in Utah and Colorado, selling Intel property took two to three years, said Williams.
The layoffs will begin Nov. 1 with workers having a choice to remain on the company payroll to find a new job within the company or outside in a two-month “redeployment program.”
Or they may take a severance package and leave immediately.
The transfers will begin Jan. 1 with workers having flexibility for timing their transfers based on their personal needs and those of the company, said Williams.
At the Economic Development Board (EDB) for Tacoma-Pierce County, Chief Executive Bruce Kendall said the organization will offer job-finding help, in connection with WorkForce Central, for laid-off or jobless Intel workers.
Grayum said he sees Monday’s development as a long-term plus for the DuPont community.
“If they sell it to someone who makes full use of the site, the community will benefit,” he said.
The Intel campus includes offices, laboratories and production facilities.
The EDB’s Kendall said his organization has already talked with Intel both at a corporate and regional level to begin joint marketing efforts for the site.
“It’s a real opportunity for us to move in someone who will fill the building,” he said.
The city won’t lose much money if Intel leaves, said the mayor, because the company or its successor will continue to pay property taxes on the land and building.
The mayor said the loss of some 380 workers will be partially offset by the opening early next year of an Amazon.com distribution center that will employ between 400 and 900 workers.
Another anchor of DuPont’s business community, State Farm, recently leased the former Russell Investments headquarters building in downtown Tacoma. The company says it plans to employ about 1,100 workers downtown.
State Farm’s DuPont office employs more than 1,000 workers.
The company says it will retain workers at that site. State Farm recently placed its DuPont office building on the market.
It has said it intends to lease back the office from a new property owner.