Chiquita incentives expected to pass, but questions remain

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CHARLOTTE, N.C.,None - Charlotte City Council members are expected Monday night to put the final stamp of approval on a plan to attract Chiquita into uptown Charlotte.

The company expects to hire hundreds of people, but some city leaders have a few serious questions about the plan before the council votes for the incentives.

Michal Barnes said the incentives plan is expected to pass, but he wants to know exactly how the city will track Chiquita’s hiring.

When Chiquita announced it was moving its headquarters to Charlotte, it came with a price, including $5 million from the city, county and state for moving expenses. The city of Charlotte’s share is $875,000 over three years.

Paying a company’s moving costs is a step the city has never taken in the past, but in return Chiquita has committed to bringing 417 jobs to Charlotte over the next three years.

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Chiquita’s CEO said he expects half of those jobs to be Charlotte hires, although he said he would not know the final numbers until early spring. Barnes wants more details about how to guarantee that claim.

“We want to make sure that the people of the city, county and state actually benefit from the job creation, that people are actually hired locally and that they don’t simply bring 400 people to work here,” Barnes said.

Councilman Andy Dulin, who is a big supporter of the Chiquita plan, said through the company’s tax filings, it is possible for the city to track the new jobs. He said the infusion of money into the local economy makes the incentives worth it.

Chiquita will move into the NASCAR tower in uptown Charlotte.

Chiquita’s CEO said via Twitter the building would keep its name, “but we’ll have great branding on it, too.”