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Insurer Centene changes course on East Coast HQ in Charlotte

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Clayco

Government health insurance provider Centene Corp. said Thursday it no longer plans to create an East Coast campus in Charlotte, North Carolina, a project first announced in 2020, a few months after the pandemic hit, and already under construction. It was the largest economic development project in Charlotte’s history.

The St. Louis-based managed care company said it was pulling back because of the number of its employees who now prefer working from home or in a hybrid situation, a company spokesperson told The Charlotte Observer. In fact, the company said that 90% of its workforce is either fully or partially remote — and that flexibility is essential to attracting and retaining employees.

The project had initially been expected to create more than 3,200 jobs by 2032. When announced, Gov. Roy Cooper had described the planned expansion as the state’s largest single jobs announcement by number in nearly two decades.

The city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County no longer plan to follow through on incentives that had been promised in conjunction with the project, spokespeople told the newspaper.

The city plans to help Centene find a new occupant. Malcolm Graham heads the City Council’s economic development committee. He says he’s cautiously optimistic about finding a company to fill the space.

"It may present a challenge or two simply because all of the major corporations are now examining their work environment and whether folks are working from, whether or not they’re coming back to the office," Graham said.

The news of Centene's plans was first reported by the Charlotte Business Journal.

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Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.