Business

Sonic Automotive plans to create 500 jobs with call center in the Charlotte area

Legislative leaders say they don’t cater incentives for one particular employer

N.C. legislative leaders Rep. Tim Moore and Sen. Phil Berger wouldn't confirm rumors of Apple planning to locate a large facility in North Carolina. They also said speculation in the media is not helpful toward recruitment.
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N.C. legislative leaders Rep. Tim Moore and Sen. Phil Berger wouldn't confirm rumors of Apple planning to locate a large facility in North Carolina. They also said speculation in the media is not helpful toward recruitment.

Charlotte-based Fortune 500 company Sonic Automotive plans to create 500 jobs in Gaston County with the opening of an $11.2 million national call center in Lowell, Gov. Roy Cooper’s office announced Thursday.

The new positions will include support agents, managers and marketing personnel with average pay at about $53,000, according to a news release. The current Gaston County wage averages about $39,000.

“North Carolina remains our home,” said David B. Smith, Sonic CEO said in a news the release. “We are excited to expand our marketing and contact center operations for Sonic Automotive and EchoPark Automotive into Gaston County.”

North Carolina offered $6.8 million in incentives over 12 years, contingent on Sonic meeting certain job and spending requirements. The state also will move $755,000 to a fund that is intended to support rural communities.

In October, Gaston County approved incentives for the call center that required Sonic to add 275 jobs before receiving the benefits. The company also considered locations in Texas, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, The Charlotte Observer previously reported.

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In September, Sonic had a leadership change when Scott Smith stepped down as CEO. Scott’s younger brother, David, took his place.

Scott and David’s father Bruton Smith founded Sonic and is the executive chairman.

The Sonic announcement is the latest incentives-backed deal in the Charlotte area.

Last week, Charlotte-based LendingTree said it will add 436 high-paying jobs that pay an average wage of over $100,000 over the next five years in Charlotte.

Two weeks ago, Fortune 100 Honeywell said it would relocate its headquarters from New Jersey to Charlotte. Honeywell said it plans to relocate some jobs and hire 500 employees in Charlotte over the next five years, reaching 750 local employees by 2024.

The jobs news wasn’t all good on Thursday: North Carolina learned it lost out on an Apple campus, when the tech giant chose Austin, Texas.

Staff writer Katie Peralta contributed.

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