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Michael Tomsic

Art, the Panama Canal and the Charlotte economy intersected at the Mint Museum Uptown on Wednesday night. The museum’s exhibit featuring paintings of the canal’s construction 100 years ago served as a backdrop for a discussion of Charlotte’s role in the global shipping industry – and how that role is growing.

Duncan McFadyen

It was billed as a once in a decade opportunity, the chance to lure an international brand to relocate their worldwide headquarters to Charlotte. The pursuit was costly and controversial.

Chiquita's decision to leave Charlotte has been big news in state government – and rightly so.  After all, the state put up much of the roughly $22 million incentives package that convinced Chiquita to move from Cincinnati to Charlotte a few years ago, although most of those incentives have not been paid to the company.  

WFAE's Mark Rumsey discussed Chiquita's decision - and the state's use of incentives - with John Lassiter, a former Charlotte City Council member who now chairs the state's Economic Development Board.  


Julie Rose

Earlier today the 320 or so employees of Chiquita received an email which began “Dear Associate, We now embark on Chiquita’s next chapter.”

That’s how Chiquita told its workforce the company’s Uptown headquarters will be closed. This just three years after the company received an incentive package potentially worth more than $20 million to come to Charlotte and keep its worldwide headquarters here for 11 years. Now there are questions as to how much incentive money – and in what form the company has received. Tom Bullock joins All Things Considered host Mark Rumsey for the latest on this story.


Reactions To Chiquita's Departure

Jan 14, 2015
Jeremy Brooks https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

WFAE's Duncan McFadyen reports on the mixed reactions to Wednesday’s news that Chiquita plans to close its corporate headquarters in Charlotte.


Chiquita Closing Charlotte Headquarters

Jan 14, 2015
Duncan McFadyen

Fruit company Chiquita has announced it will close its Charlotte headquarters in the next 18 months. Chiquita employs more than 300 at that headquarters. The closure comes less than three years after state, city, and county officials lured the company from Cincinnati with a $22 million package of economic incentives in 2011. Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James is a critic of those incentives. He says today’s news shows why they’re a bad strategy.

"What kind of loyalty do you get? I don't want to sound crass, but, no one falls in love with a hooker. And in essence Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte, they've been hooking themselves out to these companies," said James. 

So far, the city and county have paid about $1 million. County manager Dena Diorio says Chiquita has agreed to return that money. The company also received $5 million up front for relocation expenses —no word if that will come back, too. (see note below) Chiquita has not said where it will relocate to. The company, Charlotte mayor Dan Clodfelter, and the county manager have all declined further interviews.

Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio sent an email this morning to all county commissioners announcing the closure.

Correction: The final incentives agreement does not mention a $5 million upfront payment. While the payment was described as "upfront" money when the council initially approved the deal, the city says - and contracts with Chiquita show - any payment was going to be spread over three years and tied to the number of people employed. The city says this is the $1 million paid from city and county funds, and Chiquita has agreed to repay it.

Retro Video Games: A Link To The Past

Jan 9, 2015
Ben Bradford / WFAE

Many children of a certain generation have a warm place in their heart for classic Nintendo games like Mario and Zelda. As adults, they’re spending to rediscover it.


Jennifer Lang / WFAE

Family Dollar saw its first quarter earnings drop significantly. The Matthews-based discount retailer said Thursday the period was a “very challenging” one for the company. 


The Commonwealth Fund

 In North Carolina, what businesses pay in health care premiums has been growing at a much slower rate since the Affordable Care Act passed. But that's not resulting in cheaper costs for most families, according to a report Thursday from The Commonwealth Fund, a private research foundation.

©Sean Busher and NASCAR Hall of Fame

Charlotte officials have struck a deal to forgive roughly $20 million in debt the city owes for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Billed as an economic boon, the facility has never broken even since it opened in 2010, and has failed to pay off its original loans.


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