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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sealed Air relocating to Charlotte - but for how long?

Posted By on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 11:36 AM

Gov. McCrory was all smiles today when he announced that Sealed Air Corp., a company known for making Bubble Wrap, would relocate its headquarters from New Jersey to Charlotte, the largest relocation of its kind in city history. The Fortune 500 company will bring 1,262 high-paying jobs after the state approved $36 million in incentives this morning.

For Charlotte's sake, we hope Sealed Air is committed to staying in the Queen City. Or, another way to put it: We hope another city, state or country doesn't woo it away.

Like Chiquita. Remember Chiquita? Charlotte practically tripped over itself trying to lure the fruit company away from Cincinnati. We won, but not for long. The company announced this year that it would move its global headquarters to tax-lax Ireland. The CEO vowed to maintain the the 400 jobs it brought here and discussed the possibility of repaying some of the $22 million in incentives we threw Chiquita's way. Who knows whether that will happen.

So it's with a healthy dose of skepticism that we processed this morning's news about Sealed Air. The good news is North Carolina often includes strong clawback provisions in incentives contracts i.e., we lessen our chances of being screwed when a company we incentivize to locate or relocate here decides to leave. The state will only offer Sealed Air $36 million in corporate tax breaks if it meets job and investment targets over 12 years. But the contract wasn't signed in blood. Sealed Air can leave whenever it wants.

Charlotte leaders have welcomed Sealed Air with open arms, and for good reason. Nearly 1,300 Charlotteans have a shot at employment. But let's not roll out the red carpet.

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