Charlotte bubbles ahead

David Mildenberg - Jul 23, 2014 - 6:30:00 pm

Landing 1,260 jobs and the headquarters of Sealed Air Corp. may rank among the best days in the history of Charlotte’s business community, on par with NationsBank Corp.’s purchase of Bank of America Corp. in 1998 or Royal Insurance’s U.S. headquarters relocation from New York City in 1986. The latter included 1,200 jobs, about half of them filled by existing Royal workers.

As the 345th largest U.S. public company, Sealed Air, which makes bubble wrap and other packaging, is the type of headquarters move that Atlanta or Dallas envy, much less Greenville S.C., which is losing more than 600 white-collar jobs as the company consolidates into a larger corporate campus, according to the Wall Street Journal. It’s a big victory for North Carolina over South Carolina, which a month ago was crowing after attracting potentially thousands of jobs from Charlotte through recruitment of Lash Group, a division of AmerisourceBergen, and LPL Financial Corp., both of which are seeking to reduce costs by moving across the state line.

Charlotte’s gain is also a loss for New Jersey, which has higher overall taxation and declining revenue from Atlantic City casinos. Sealed Air is now based in Elmwood Park, N.J., an affluent suburb 15 miles west of Manhattan. Losing headquarters is never good news for governors, especially when they are considering a presidential bid, such as New Jersey’s Chris Christie.

Charlotte benefited from the background of Sealed Air Chief Financial Officer Carol Lowe, a UNC Charlotte graduate who joined the company in 2012 after working for more than 10 years at for Carlisle Cos., another local Fortune 500 company. She joined the company just months before Jerome Peribere, who was initially president and then named CEO in March 2013. He had spent the previous 35 years at Dow Chemical Co., and brought new vision to the company.

Incentives of about $36 million helped make Peribere’s decision as he picked North Carolina over four states. It disproves the notion that the Tar Heel state won’t be competitive in doling out money to massive international companies. In April, Texas promised $40 million to Toyota Motor North America Inc., which is moving its headquarters and about 6,400 jobs to a Dallas suburb from California.

Sealed Air’s promised wages surely enticed North Carolina’s politicians. The average annual wage is about $120,000, though simple math suggests the reality may be closer to $100,000 for about 1,200 workers after excluding the top 50 executives, whose wages skew the average. In any case, it was a huge victory for Charlotte and North Carolina.


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