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Charlotte Entrepreneurship Center wins preliminary approval

A new “Entrepreneurship Center of Charlotte” is closer to reality following a meeting this morning of the Mecklenburg County Industrial Facilities and Pollution Control Financing Authority.

Charlotte-based RedF Marketing is seeking up to $6.48 million in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to redevelop a building at 222 S. Church St. in Center City.

Today, the authority approved the signing of an inducement agreement, showing its initial support for the proposed project. The agreement was required before the project can be presented to the North Carolina Tax Reform Allocation Committee for approval.

RedF Marketing was created in 1999 as part of Fort Mill, S.C.-based Redventure. In 2005, Sara Garces Roselli and Danny Roselli purchased the advertising company from Redventure. There are now 108 RedF Marketing employees worldwide.

Sara Roselli told the authority that the company has outgrown its 10,000 square feet of office space in south Charlotte and will occupy just more than half of the 88,000 square feet of the Church Street building.

Today, 65 percent of the building is vacant. RedF Marketing would hire a leasing agent to fill the remainder of the building with the hopes of it becoming a center for entrepreneurship. Sara Roselli said there is a huge opportunity for job creation in the building, which she hopes will become an incubator for small startups.

“We’ve been looking for headquarters for our offices for about six months in North Carolina and South Carolina,” she said. “We have gotten some attractive incentives for South Carolina.”

County attorney Marvin Bethune said it is common for a company to consider York County, S.C., for a location, thanks to its proximity to Charlotte.

“Almost everybody now in Charlotte, if they are thinking about doing a new project, they are being wooed by South Carolina with incentives,” Bethune said.

The proposed improvements to the Church Street building would include a new roof, heating and air conditioning and electrical and exterior work. Sara Roselli said she hopes to gain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold-level certification for the project.

The federal government has given authority to state agencies to issue Recovery Zone Facility Bonds, Bethune said.

If approved by the state allocation committee, the Board of County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the project. Bethune said plans call for the hearing to take place at the Nov. 16 commissioners meeting. The project would then be presented to the financing authority again for final approval before the proposal would go before the Local Government Commission, a state agency that monitors financial feasibility and other aspects of bond projects.

The bonds must be sold by the end of the year, Bethune said.

No local funds or tax exemptions are being offered, he said.

BB&T bank has agreed to back the bond financing.

It is not the only project the authority is hoping to get through the bond process by the end of the year. A Charlotte film studio project is being kept confidential for now while the company works out details, such as real estate transactions, Bethune said.

Charlotte Studios LLC wants to build the studio, although the location and other specifics have not been made public.

After a closed session today, the authority voted to support the project with a resolution. The project will now go before the North Carolina Tax Reform Allocation Committee and the same steps the RedF project must go through.

If passed by the allocation committee, the details of the studio project will be released when it is presented at the Board of County Commissioners’ public hearing in November.

Tara Ramsey can be reached at tara.ramsey@mecktimes.com.

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