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A Conversation With Chiquita CEO Fernando Aguirre

WFAE's Mark Rumsey (left) talks with Chiquita CEO Fernando Aguirre.

WFAE's Mark Rumsey (left) talks with Chiquita CEO Fernando Aguirre.

Chiquita CEO Fernando Aguirre is back in the Charlotte area this week. On Wednesday, he was at the Club at Longview in Weddington. The Chiquita Classic golf tournament is moving to the club. The tournament, a stop on the the PGA's second-tier Nationwide Tour, had been in Cincinnati. While there, he updated WFAE's Mark Rumsey on the company's move from Cincinnati to Charlotte.

Aguirre says the company should know by the end of January how many employees will move from Cincinnati. A group of Chiquita employees and their spouses will visit the area this weekend. Overall, Aguirre expects about 330 jobs to be filled by the fall, and 400 within a year. He says several employees will be working out of the company's NASCAR Plaza headquarters in March or April.

He says the roughly $24 million incentives package that helped convince Chiquita to relocate is a good deal for taxpayers. He cited a UNC Charlotte study commissioned by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. "The bottom line is the economic impact of our move will be $100 million every year," he says. "Frankly, the financial incentives are utilized everywhere. Without financial incentives it would be very difficult for companies to support and make a decision such as the one we made," says Aguirre, adding that the move will cost $30 to $35 million.

Aguirre says local political and business leaders impressed him when they were recruiting his company. "The way in which the government works here in Charlotte and frankly the state of North Carolina as well was very seamless," he says. "You could not tell very easily who was business, who was Chamber of Commerce, who was city, who was county, who was from the governor's office in the meetings that we had. I had not seen that type of coordination and communication essentially anywhere else."