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NC expects incentive payback if Chiquita moves

CHARLOTTE — A top economic development official in North Carolina says he expects the new owners of Chiquita to repay state and local incentives if they move headquarters operations out of Charlotte.

John Lassiter of the North Carolina Economic Development Board said Monday he would expect the new owners to return incentives if they move, The Charlotte Observer (http://bit.ly/1DVIXlJ) reported.

Chiquita employees about 300 people in Charlotte. North Carolina offered Chiquita more than $23 million to move from Cincinnati in 2011. The deal included a payback provision if the company leaves within 10 years.

Two Brazilian companies, Cutrale, an orange juice maker, and Safra Group, a banking group, announced Monday their $680 million cash purchase of the banana producer.

The new owners have not said what they will do with Chiquita’s Charlotte headquarters.

The city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County have so far paid Chiquita at least $510,000 each in incentives. They are scheduled to pay the fruit company about $1.5 million in coming years.

The city and county say they will study the deal with the Brazilian companies to see how it might affect Charlotte.

The company exceeded its job creation goal for 2012 by creating 281 jobs and retaining 13. The 2013 figures are not yet available.

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