Updated:CHARLOTTE, N.C.,None —
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It looks like taxpayers will do something for Chiquita they don't usually do: help pay its moving expenses.
As soon as Chiquita announced it's moving to Charlotte, Eyewitness News asked city leaders for the transcript of a closed-door meeting they had about Chiquita in September. It says Chiquita wanted the city, county and state to give it $5 million for moving expenses.
City leaders don't usually do that and weren't sure they wanted to start. But, in that meeting, Chamber President Bob Morgan told the group Chiquita is a “once in a decade opportunity,” and “a game changer.” City Manager Curt Walton added these are "extraordinary times" and the city should break from tradition if need be.
“It was just an infusion for the community that we wouldn't have had otherwise if we hadn't had gone this unprecedented route,” he said Thursday.
Most council members agreed. So in that closed session, they voted to offer Chiquita the money. But three voted no, worried the city may end up paying every corporation's moving expenses from now on.
“I don't like the precedent,” Patsy Kinsey said.
Warren Cooksey said the situation caused "heartburn," and asked, "Is the company worth breaking the process for?"
“This is the first time that we've had anybody just come out and ask us bold face for this,” Edwin Peacock III said.
He told Eyewitness News on Thursday, "We're happy that Chiquita came to Charlotte, but we didn't need to give them upfront cash -- plain and simple."
The city and county still have to officially sign of on the deal. It should be just a formality.
More information: Chiquita job openings