Chiquita Brands has announced it plans to locate its new global corporate headquarters to Charlotte, NC, from Cincinnati, OH, and invest $14.1 million in the Mecklenburg County project. The move will bring about 375 jobs to the state, along with R&D laboratories, by 2014.
Chiquita is the leading distributor of bananas in America; the fruit makes up 60 percent of the firm's total sales. Its products are sold in almost 70 nations, but mostly in North America and Europe.
"Charlotte provided the most compelling economic offer and the region is an attractive community for our employees," said Chiquita CEO Fernando Aguirre. "Importantly, the Charlotte airport provides improved access to international markets, customers and Chiquita operations around the world."
It's been reported that about 80 of the jobs will be transferred from the Queen City. The average wage is expected to be about $106,000 (plus benefits); the annual average wage in Mecklenburg County is $51,584.
Chiquita has accepted a $22 million tax incentives package from North Carolina. It includes a grant of up to $2.5 million from the One North Carolina Fund, and a Job Development Investment Grant which could yield up to $16.1 million if performance targets are met.
"It's disappointing for your city and it's a loss income tax wise as well," said Cincinnati Councilman Chris Bortz. "Folks at that income level are members of boards and contribute to [the] arts. This will be a significant loss. Those people will sell their homes and put pressure on the real estate market."