Business news and information from Charlotte and the Carolinas. 

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.

Jeremy Brooks

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.

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.

Courtesy of Socialtopias

When you think of social networking names like Twitter and Facebook come to mind. On December 31st, a small Charlotte company will take on those multi-billion dollar behemoths.

The company is called Socialtopias. And its office at the Charlotte Venture Center on South Church Street holds all the white boards and the small conference table you’d expect from a startup, but with a Charlotte twist. A large window is coated with a plastic-pixilated rendering of the Charlotte's skyline.

Ben Bradford / WFAE

2015 could be a bellwether year for the commercial drone industry. The Federal Aviation Administration has projected 10,000 of the devices will be in U.S. skies by 2017. They could survey land for oil companies, film aerial shots in Hollywood, and one day perhaps deliver your food. But, the industry’s impact will depend largely on an upcoming federal decision.

Ben Bradford / WFAE

Leaders of some of the region’s largest companies have high hopes for the coming year. At the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce’s annual Economic Outlook luncheon, CEOs of Bank of America and Duke Energy, among others, discussed the state of the economy, gas prices, health care, and regulation.