November 30, 2011
After months of consideration, Banana giant Chiquita Brands International has decided to move their headquarters from their current location in Cincinatti, OH to the city of Charlotte, NC.
Chiquita confirmed Tuesday it will move its global headquarters to Charlotte after a North Carolina economic development panel approved an incentives deal worth more than $22 million.
The state Economic Investment Committee voted Tuesday in favor of the deal, which includes more than $20 million in state incentives and more than $2 million from local government to bring at least 375 high-paying jobs to North Carolina by 2014.
“We had to compete and compete hard for this company,” Gov. Beverly Perdue said at a news conference in Charlotte announcing the move.
Committee members said moving Chiquita’s headquarters, along with research and development laboratories, will eventually bring a total of about 417 jobs to the area as part of an overall investment of around $14 million. The jobs are supposed to pay an average of about $107,000.
Committee members said the incentives were needed to give Charlotte an edge over Ohio, Florida and Louisiana. Another key factor in the company’s decision was the greater access to foreign flights in and out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport and the assortment of those flights, according to CEO Fernando Aguirre, who spoke at the news conference.
“Charlotte provided the most compelling economic opportunity for Chiquita by far,” he said.
The move should be complete by the end of 2012, Aguirre said, although he expected most employees would be in Charlotte by next summer.
With operations across the globe, Chiquita has more than 21,000 employees worldwide. The company this month reported a $29 million third-quarter loss due to higher expenses and lower revenue. Profits were $61 million in 2010, down from $91 million the previous year.
Aguirre praised Cincinnati and Ohio for providing a home for the company since 1987, but said the move to Charlotte will, among other things, save Chiquita more than $4 million a year in operating costs.
“Times change, and the fact is, we needed to make decisions that would help our business not just for the short term, but also for the long term,” he said.
The banana giant is currently negotiating to lease five or six floors in the NASCAR Plaza office tower adjoining the racing league’s Hall of Fame, located uptown.