Lend­ingTree to add hun­dreds of high-pay­ing jobs in Char­lotte

The Charlotte Observer - - Front Page - BY KATHER­INE PERALTA, DEON ROBERTS, CASSIE COPE AND ZACH­ERY EANES

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Lend­ingTree, the on­line ser­vice that matches bor­row­ers with lenders, an­nounced Thurs­day plans to nearly dou­ble its lo­cal foot­print after re­ceiv­ing state in­cen­tives in ex­change for keep­ing its head­quar­ters in Char­lotte.

The fast-grow­ing com­pany will add 436 high­pay­ing jobs that pay an av­er­age wage of over $ 100,000 over the next five years, un­der a deal ap­proved Thurs­day by the North Carolina Eco­nomic In­vest­ment Com­mit­tee. That pack­age in­cludes $8.37 mil­lion in state in­cen­tives for the Bal­lan­tyne-based com­pany.

CEO Doug Lebda, who launched the com­pany in Char­lotte in 1996, said the firm con­sid­ered more than 20 lo­ca­tions in sev­eral states, which he did not name.

“Ul­ti­mately we came to the con­clu­sion that we’re keep­ing and grow­ing our pres­ence right here,” he said at the an­nounce­ment in up­town Char­lotte. He praised North Carolina’s and Char­lotte’s busi­ness cli­mate, in­fra­struc­ture, schools and qual­ity of life. In ad­di­tion, Lend­ingTree has found it in­creas­ingly eas­ier to re­cruit top ta­lent to the area, he said.

The com­pany is ex­pected to also re­ceive in­cen­tives worth about $ 1.4 mil­lion over seven years from Meck­len­burg County and the city of Char­lotte.

“When you con­sider all of this and add in the city and state’s sup­port, we’re thrilled to an­nounce that we’ll be ex­pand­ing our head­quar­ters” in Char­lotte, Lebda said.

Lend­ingTree cur­rently em­ploys about 488 in Char­lotte.

The hun­dreds of new jobs will be in a Char­lotte lo­ca­tion the com­pany has not yet dis­closed. Bal­lan­tyne Cor­po­rate Park, where Lend­ingTree is head­quar­tered, is among sites be­ing con­sid­ered, Lebda said.

The new jobs will in­clude po­si­tions in en­gi­neer­ing, fi­nance and data an­a­lyt­ics, he said.

It’s the lat­est growth spurt at Lend­ingTree, which lets con­sumers com­par­i­son-shop on­line for a range of fi­nan­cial prod­ucts, such as mort­gages, per­sonal loans and credit cards. The com­pany has posted mul­ti­ple quar­ters of record re­sults in re­cent years as it’s ex­panded into new prod­ucts and ser­vices.

Last year, it placed No. 3 on For­tune’s fastest-grow­ing com­pa­nies list.

In an­nounc­ing Lend­ingTree’s pack­age, the Eco­nomic In­vest­ment Com­mit­tee also ap­proved $ 2.79 mil­lion for the state’s util­ity ac­count, which helps ru­ral coun­ties fund in­fra­struc­ture pro­jects. That brings the to­tal in­cen­tives pack­age from the state to more than $ 11 mil­lion, when com­bined with the $8.3 mil­lion the com­pany will re­ceive.

IN­CEN­TIVES GIVEN IN 2016

For Lend­ingTree, it’s the sec­ond time in as many years that the com­pany is re­ceiv­ing state in­cen­tives in ex­change for creat­ing jobs.

In Novem­ber 2016, it an­nounced plans to add 314 work­ers in its home­town—more than dou­bling its work­force—for re­ceiv­ing a $4.9 mil­lion in­cen­tives pack­age from the state. Those jobs were ex­pected to pay an av­er­age of nearly $82,000 per year.

As part of Lend­ingTree’s lat­est agree­ment with the state, the com­pany will be re­quired to re­tain the jobs it al­ready has in Char­lotte to re­main in com­pli­ance with the 2016 in­cen­tives deal.

At the time of the 2016 deal, Lend­ingTree said it would re­lo­cate its head­quar­ters from Bal­lan­tyne to two build­ings in SouthPark.

But the com­pany said last year that it was eval­u­at­ing al­ter­na­tives after its head­count pro­jec­tions in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly, and that it was in­stead con­sid­er­ing mov­ing its head­quar­ters to a former mill in Pineville.

In re­spond­ing to ques­tions Thurs­day about pos­si­bly mov­ing Lend­ingTree’s head­quar­ters out of state, Lebda said:

LAT­EST JOBS NEWS

The Lend­ingTree news is the sec­ond ma­jor jobs an­nounce­ment for Char­lotte in less than a week.

On Fri­day, man­u­fac­tur­ing tech gi­ant and For­tune 100 com­pany Honey­well an­nounced that it will re­lo­cate its head­quar­ters from New Jersey to Char­lotte.

Honey­well’s move is be­ing made pos­si­ble in large part by more than $80 mil­lion in in­cen­tives from the state, county and city com­bined. In­cluded in that pack­age is the largestever in­cen­tives gift by the county, and $42.5 mil­lion from the state, which was ap­proved Mon­day.

In ex­change for the in­cen­tives, Honey­well has said it will em­ploy up to 750 peo­ple in jobs pay­ing a me­dian of $85,000 per year. The com­pany is con­sid­er­ing lo­ca­tions in ei­ther Bal­lan­tyne or SouthPark for its cor­po­rate of­fices, the Ob­server has re­ported.

Thurs­day’s an­nounce­ment also marks the lat­est tax­payer-funded in­cen­tives pack­age that North Carolina has of­fered to a large com­pany as it com­petes with other states for busi­ness.

Ac­cord­ing to records re­leased by the state last week, North Carolina was pre­pared to of­fer Ama­zon at least $ 2.2 bil­lion for its cov­eted sec­ond head­quar­ters.

The Raleigh-Durham area was one of 20 fi­nal­ists for the project. But last month Ama­zon chose Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and New York and said it will in­vest $ 5 bil­lion and hire up to 50,000 peo­ple com­bined in those ar­eas.

Lend­ingTree

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