VANCOUVER, WA-SONICblue, until recently S3 Inc., is picking up its digital audio player division here and setting down across the Columbia River in the City of Tigard, OR, where the company has leased a 44,000-sf building still under construction near the confluence of Interstate 5 and Highway 217. SONIC signed a 7-year lease for the soon-to-be two-story structure located at 13535 SW 72nd, near the confluence of Interstate 5 and Highway 217. Move-in is scheduled for April.

The company is currently located in 28,000-sf of flex space on Stone Mill Drive near Mill Plain Boulevard and 136th. SONICblue president Jim Cady tells GlobeSt. he’s moving the rapidly-growing division “because we need to attract more talent, more marketing and engineering talent, and the biggest pool of people is in Washington County.”

The company checked into space at the new Fox Tower in downtown Portland, says Cady, but didn’t like the rent and really wanted to lease 100% of a smaller building in order to have more control. They looked at a couple of dozen buildings all over the tri-county region before honing in on the project by Pacific Northwest Properties LP. “Most of the buildings were either fairly small, like 20,000 sf, or in the 75,000-80,000-sf range,” says Cady. Dave Brown from Columbia Commercial Properties of Vancouver assisted the company in its search.

SONICblue changed its name in October from S3 Inc. The local division, which has grown from 65 employees to 125 in under two years, makes a small, portable audio player called Rio that stores and plays digital music downloaded from computers or the Internet. Some models are sold under the Nike brand. The company says its sales doubled in the third quarter of the year, and is planning a $10 million advertising campaign to boost sales further.

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