CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - In a letter to Major League Soccer, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles pledged the city would invest $110 million in hospitality funds to help land an MLS franchise in Charlotte. It’s a very different deal than the ones struck by Lowe’s and Honeywell that helped incentivize their moves to the Queen City.
Lowe’s and Honeywell received business investment grants from the city and county that help offset the cost of property taxes they would pay on their new facilities.
“It’s not a blank check,” former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour told WBTV.
Ridenhour served as economic development committee chair and helped see through numerous business incentive grants.
“It’s actually more or less a rebate on their property taxes that they pay,” Ridenhour said.
In order to locate its tech hub in Charlotte, Lowe’s inked a deal that would see them earn $72 million in incentives including $10.1 million in grants from Mecklenburg County and $6 million in grants from the City of Charlotte if the company hits certain incentive requirements.
Lowe’s has guaranteed more than $153 million in capital investments and committed to 1,912 jobs at an average annual salary of $110,000.
“Businesses have to meet those criteria over time in order to receive their grant,” Ridenhour said.
The City of Charlotte has even implemented a formula that sets parameters on the amount of grants a company will receive depending on the capital investment, jobs and salaries it’s pledging.
It’s unclear at this point if any of that was taken into consideration when the city began negotiating the deal with David Tepper to land a MLS franchise.
When asked how the city arrived at pledging $110 million in hospitality funds, Charlotte Economic Development Director Tracy Dodson said it was through talks with Tepper.
“That was through a partnership with and just a discussion with Tepper and some of the investments that were being made,” Dodson said,
“(It’s) a number that, working with budget and finance, we thought we could afford.”
WBTV reached out the city’s public information officers to ask if Dodson had a more thorough explanation but did not receive a response by publication.
According to a presentation made by Charlotte Chief financial Officer Kelly Flannery, the city could afford $100 million in debt from the Convention Center Tax Fund or the Tourism Tax Fund to pay for the MLS deal. Flannery also said the city could afford to take on even more debt from those funds to complete other projects but she did not provide information or details answering how much debt and when.