Chiquita must meet requirements to receive tax breaks


CHARLOTTE, N.C.,None - Chiquita will receive millions of dollars in tax breaks for hiring hundreds of people in Charlotte, and Eyewitness News learned there are specific requirements for the company to receive the money.

The state offered $20.2 million in incentives, while Mecklenburg County came up with about $1.35 million and Charlotte is putting up about $1.14 million.

But to receive the money, Chiquita has to create about 400 jobs over the next three years. The average wage has to be about $100,000 a year and the company must remain in Charlotte for at least 10 years.

The reason for the requirements is to protect taxpayer money and make sure Chiquita fulfills its promises.

If it doesn't, Chiquita is required to repay part of, or in some cases, all of the money.

"If the company doesn't produce the jobs that they've promised, if they don't sign the lease and make the investment in real estate that they've promised, if they don't perform -- the incentives won’t be paid out," said Bob Morgan, president of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.

State and city officials said the payouts will begin after they review Chiquita's first annual report from Charlotte in 2013.

But in addition to adding jobs to the local economy, Chiquita will also be expected to play its part as a corporate citizen.

Chiquita officials said in its current city, Cincinnati, the company raised almost $300,000 in 2011 for charities through the Chiquita Classic Nationwide PGA tour event, raised thousands for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in Cincinnati and donated salad bars to five schools.

At the press conference on Tuesday, Chiquita CEO Fernando Aguirre said he would donate 15 salad bars to Charlotte schools.

Chamber President Bob Morgan said just like Duke Energy and Bank of America, Chiquita will be expected to support the arts, city projects, and schools in the Charlotte area.

"One of the things we say to any company that comes is, ‘We know you're coming for your self interest and business decision, but you also come with our expectation that you're going to be involved,’" he said. "They've been very involved in Cincinnati in particular causes."

More information: Financial incentives in NC