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County looks to Nike for jobs

Another Pacific Northwest billionaire should be hearing from JacksonCounty soon.

Having fired off a letter Friday to software czar Bill Gates on be-halfof Ashland's ailing Pacific Northwest Museum of Natural History, the countyBoard of Commissioners fired off another. The second letter seeks sports-wearczar Phil Knight's help with job creation.

Commissioner Ric Holt says the idea came to him while reading that Knightis considering expanding Beaverton-based Nike somewhere out of state.

It struck me that with your beginnings in Medford, we in JacksonCounty would certainly appreciate your considering re-turning part of yourcompany to this area, Holt wrote.

The Medford connection may leave Knight scratching his head. Holt wasn'tentirely sure himself when asked ­ but it exists ­ sort of.

Decades ago, Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman coached Medford High Schoolfootball and track before moving on to fame with the University of Oregontrack team and a shoe sole cooked up on a waffle iron.

Should Knight decide to cook up something new here, Holt figures theRogue Valley has many amenities to offer Nike: an inter-national airportdesignation, for-eign trade zone, enterprise zone, three ski areas for testinga new line of snowboards, and hard-working but unemployed timber workers.

Please, before looking out of state, give us a chance, Holtwrote.

And if Knight decides he just won't do it ­ don't despair. The Fortune400 lists more than a score of billionaires west of the Rockies. So far,commissioners have contacted just two.