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REGIONALREPORT Charlotte

Working on a Knights' move

The Charlotte Sports Commission, a nonprofit that supports the region’s sporting events and organizations, released a study in February that claims the industry generated $2.2 billion in direct and indirect spending last year in Mecklenburg, Gaston, Cabarrus, Union and Anson counties and in adjacent York County, S.C. That same month, the Charlotte Knights, the minor-league baseball team based in Fort Mill, S.C., unveiled a report asserting it could increase that figure if it gets a downtown Charlotte ballpark, which it has been pursuing for years and already has the land for.

Both studies were prepared by UNC Charlotte economist John Connaughton, the Queen City’s go-to-guy for economic-impact studies. “If Connaughton were a meteorologist,” a Charlotte Observer editorial opined March 5, “Charlotte’s forecast would be sunny 340 days a year.” He says the ballpark would generate $66.4 million and create 749 jobs in Mecklenburg if it’s open by 2014. That’s much more than the $17.3 million and 308 jobs the team generated for York last year, says Knights General Manager Dan Rajkowski. “The [Sports Commission] study includes the Knights in Fort Mill. This takes a step further by showing the difference our stadium makes.”

Rajkowski hopes the projected boost to Charlotte’s sports scene will persuade the City Council to provide some financing for the stadium, whose estimated price tag has ballooned from $35 million when plans were first unveiled to about $54 million. Mecklenburg has given the team an $8 million economic-development grant and a $1-a-year lease on an 8-acre site downtown, which expires in October unless they’ve broken ground. But the team is still short, and Rajkowski thinks Connaughton’s study gives team officials ammunition when they meet with the City Council’s economic-development committee. He didn’t say how much firepower the Knights would ask for. 

 

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The Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metro’s ranking on U.S. News & World Report’s list of The 10 Worst Cities for Finding a Job, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors forecasts it will regain only 7.4% of the jobs it has lost since the start of the recession by year-end.
 

"This in no way reflects the financial health of the organization." 
—Part of a statement from the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association accompanying the news that the nonprofit has laid off about 10% of its staff — around 50 workers — as part of a strategic reorganization. Annual revenue increased 6.9% to $91.6 million in 2011.

Briefs

MATTHEWS7-Eleven purchased 55 stores from Matthews-based Sam’s Mart and plans to convert them by year-end. The Dallas-based convenience-store chain will hire 120 workers, increasing its Charlotte-area employees to 470. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

CHARLOTTE XPO Logistics will open an operations center here, hiring at least 200 workers. The Buchanan, Mich.-based company specializes in third-party transportation logistics. The average annual wage will be $56,606. Mecklenburg County’s average is $51,584.

SHELBY Kendrion FAS Controls will expand its local operations, investing $7.3 million and adding 57 jobs to the roughly 200 it has within three years. The electromagnetic-systems manufacturer is a subsidiary of Germany-based Kendrion Binder Magnete. The average annual wage will be $32,544, on par with Cleveland County’s average of $32,344.

KINGS MOUNTAIN — Manufacturer Specialty Textiles will invest $4.9 million expanding its plant here and add 62 jobs to its 170. The factory will grow to nearly 250,000 square feet after the 32,000-square-foot addition.

DENVER — China-based RATO Power will establish its North American headquarters here, creating as many as 40 jobs. This is the first location outside China for the company, which makes all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles and generators.

CHARLOTTE — Extended Stay Hotels named former Starbucks President and CEO Jim Donald its chief executive. Most recently, he served as chief executive and president of grocer Haggen in Washington state.

SALISBURY — Discount grocer Bottom Dollar Food will double its presence in New Jersey by adding eight stores there by 2013.