15 October 2005

Will Council Go Bananas Over Chiquita Incentives?

The Post reports that Chiquita may relocate its headquarters to another city. Its lease of the Chiquita Center expires next August, so it is considering other options before re-leasing.

As the article explains, there are solid, practical reasons for relocating to Atlanta or South Florida so it's entirely reasonable that Chiquita would relocate.

The article doesn't say how many area jobs that affects but it does say Chiquita has 25,000 employees worldwide, 17,000 of them in the centroamerican bananalands (Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama and Guatemala). So somewhere between a few and several thousand jobs would be affected.

One of the things that will factor into Chiquita's decision is the tax incentive package they get from Council. It's unlikely (but not impossible) to be a big one, because of the backlash against corporate tax incentives, particularly the Convergys deal.

Chiquita's spokesman said tax packages were a factor, but not the primary consideration. That's good, because the other cities can probably come up with something better. So what will the decision depend on?

According to the spokesman, "[t]he main criteria are cost, access to transportation networks, quality of life for employees, flexibility for growth and access to prospective employees."

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