Health insurance giant’s Charlotte expansion one of largest jobs announcements in NC history

Health insurance giant’s Charlotte expansion one of largest jobs announcements in NC history

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County received some welcomed economic news Wednesday morning -- a regional headquarters for a Fortune 50 company is officially coming to Charlotte, bringing thousands of jobs with it.

Before the economic crisis, Charlotte saw a number of corporate expansions, including Microsoft and manufacturing technology giant Honeywell.

Now, St. Louis-based Centene Corp. is being added to that list as one of the largest economic development deals in the state of North Carolina’s history.

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The major health insurance company, which ranked No. 42 on this year’s Fortune 500 list, will develop a 1 million square feet campus in University City, adding at least 3,237 new jobs to our area over a 10-year period.

Centene CEO Michael Neidorff said the company could end up adding more than 6,000 jobs over the years.

“Charlotte was the right fit for Centene -- has all the elements,” Neidorff said.

He said the city’s light rail system and Charlotte Douglas International Airport were important factors in Centene’s decision to expand to Charlotte.

“We chose Charlotte as the home to our East Coast headquarters because we believe it will enable us to continue our strong growth and our mission to serve the most vulnerable populations,” Neidorff said. “We look forward to our future in Charlotte and intend to be a strong part of the community, as we are in all of the places where we have business operations.”

In regards to the current climate and protests against systemic racism, Neidorff said, “We see you, we hear you, we care about you, will work for systemic change.” 52% of Centene’s employees are people of color with more than a third in leadership positions. 74% of the company’s employees are women with more than 60% in supervisor positions.

The company also has a large Medicaid operation. Job postings for Charlotte and Centene’s evolution into more of a technology company suggest a significant number of tech jobs are headed to the Queen City with the expansion.

Average wages for the Centene jobs are expected to be around $100,000. More than a third of the positions would make $63,000.

With the project, the company is eligible to receive $438.6 million in Job Development Investment Grant incentives for its investment, expected to total north of $1 billion. The state economic investment committee unanimously approved the JDIG proposal on Wednesday morning. The project is the largest job creation project in the 18-year history of the JDIG program.

The city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County are expected to provide $73 million in incentives while the state community college system will kick in $4.5 million.

According to Gov. Roy Cooper, the project will lift the state’s overall economy by $29.5 billion over the next 39 years.

“Centene’s investment here is great for the Charlotte area and our whole state,” Cooper said. “Centene knows that North Carolina has a resilient economy, ready workforce, livable communities and a host of other assets that make our state a leading destination for forward-thinking businesses.”

Tampa, Florida, and South Carolina’s York County were other regions that competed for the Centene project, according to members of the economic investment committee.

The company hopes to break ground by August. Centene had already purchased 80 acres in Charlotte, but has since added 50 more for future growth.

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