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REGIONALREPORT Charlotte

Location isn't everything

For the eighth time in 10 years, Statesville-Mooresville in Iredell County was Site Selection magazine’s top U.S. micropolitan area — urban cores of between 10,000 and 49,999 people — for economic development, announcing 28 projects of at least $1 million in investment. It was joined in the top 10 by another Charlotte-region micro, Shelby in Cleveland County, which ranked fifth with 13. While it’s accurate to say these counties benefited from proximity to the state’s largest city — “in particular that airport,” says Mike Smith, executive director of the Greater Statesville Development Corp. — it’s also incomplete.

For example, Providencia USA Inc., a subsidiary of Brazil-based Companhia Providencia, chose to expand its Statesville textile factory partly because of the county’s low taxes. General manager Gene Konczal told Site Selection that Iredell’s tax rate is among the state’s five lowest and that the other four are in remote sections. “We are only 45 minutes from a major airport. That is an advantage for our business.” It also helps that Interstate Highways 77 and 40 intersect there.

Cleveland, on the other hand, doesn’t have a low tax rate, but it has the infrastructure power-hungry data centers need. In 2008, Atlanta-based T5 Data Centers LLC started looking for a site in North Carolina to build a large data-center park. It asked Charlotte-based Duke Energy Corp. where its transmission lines were capable of delivering the most power. “That happened to be in Cleveland,” says Jason Chartrand, executive vice president of T5. Since opening, the 280-acre park in Kings Mountain has attracted three tenants, including Burbank, Calif.-based Walt Disney Co. and Dallas-based AT&T Inc. The telecommunications giant will build a $200 million data center that will generate almost a billion dollars in direct and indirect economic impact.

In name only

The Charlotte Knights have a name to put on their new stadium. Now they just need the stadium. Winston-Salem-based BB&T Corp. purchased naming rights to the 10,000-seat ballpark in downtown Charlotte for an undisclosed amount. But the minor-league baseball team, which plays just across the state line in Fort Mill, S.C., needs the city to help pay for the $54 million project, tentatively scheduled to begin construction this year and open in 2014. The Knights asked the City Council for $11 million; city staff recommended $8.5 million. A vote on that suggestion is May 14.

64.6%

Growth of Charlotte Urban Area’s population between 2000 and 2010, the largest of any in the nation with more than 1 million people, according to the Census Bureau. It also had the largest percentage increase in size, growing 70.5% from 434.9 to 741.5 square miles.

“The odds of the deal breaking are closer to 1-1, or 50%.”  
— New York-based ISI Group LLC power and utilities analyst Greg Gordon on Charlotte-based Duke Energy Corp. and Raleigh-based Progress Energy Inc.’s proposed merger, which needs approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. If that doesn’t happen by July 8, either company can back out, though neither has indicated it will. The merger would create the nation’s largest utility.

Briefs

CHARLOTTEBank of America will pay $11.8 billion to borrowers and federal and state governments as part of the $25 billion mortgage-fraud settlement with state attorneys general. The Charlotte-based bank owes the largest share of the five mortgage servicers that are part of the settlement. The bank also can face million-dollar fines for future foreclosure and loan-modification errors.

STATESVILLE — New Albany, Ohio-based Commercial Vehicle Group will lay off 93 of 225 workers at its plant here as it shifts more production overseas. The company makes parts such as suspension-seat systems and door panels for commercial vehicles.

SALISBURY — Great Neck, N.Y.-based Namdar Realty Group purchased Salisbury Mall for $2.5 million. The troubled mall was in foreclosure. It has a 77% occupancy rate, and its tenants include JC Penney, Belk and Dollar Tree.

CHARLOTTE — Central Piedmont Community College will take over public broadcaster WTVI after Mecklenburg County commissioners agreed to pay $357,000 to cover costs of the merger and $800,000 over four years for equipment improvements.

SHELBY — Norcross, Ga.-based RockTenn closed its plant here, laying off 152 workers. The company, which makes consumer packaging, did not provide a reason for the closure.

CHARLOTTE — The Babcock & Wilcox Co. named James Ferland president and CEO. The company specializes in clean-energy technology and services and is also a defense contractor.