Business

Lowe’s considers Charlotte for new 2,000-employee tech hub

Lowe’s is considering Charlotte as the home for its new global technology hub, where the home improvement retailer will employ thousands of software engineers and other IT professionals.

Along with Charlotte, Lowe’s is looking at Dallas for the new facility, Chief Information Officer Seemantini Godbole told the Observer this week. In Charlotte, Lowe’s is considering uptown as well as a few neighborhoods close to the city center, including South End.

The establishment of a tech hub is part of Lowe’s plan, announced in December, to hire about 2,000 new IT professionals as the Mooresville company works to modernize its digital capabilities.

“We are building up a base of 2,000 software engineers, infrastructure engineers and data analysts to support our focus on improving technology capabilities and solutions across our business. The bulk of our hiring for these roles will begin once the location for our tech center has been determined,” Godbole said.

It is unclear what the average salary for the new jobs will be. It’s also unclear whether incentives are being offered by either location. Representatives with the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance. A representative from the Charlotte’s economic development department declined to comment.

The move comes even as Lowe’s has shed hundreds of jobs in other parts of the company recently. In April, for instance, Lowe’s announced plans to lay off over 200 full-time workers in Charlotte at a facility called a cross-dock terminal, a warehouse where workers stage appliances and other bulky items like appliances.

Lowe’s has said, though, that roughly 50 of those affected workers have either been hired at another nearby Lowe’s location or by a third-party vendor now operating the terminal. Also in April, Lowe’s said it is moving roughly 600 full-time employees at the company’s corporate offices in Wilkesboro to its headquarters in Mooresville.

Godbole said Lowe’s narrowed down its list of locations to Dallas and Charlotte because of the availability of tech talent in both cities, and because both cities are growing rapidly. Both also have a relatively business-friendly climate.

And of course, uptown Charlotte is a less than 30-mile drive from the Lowe’s headquarters in Mooresville.

Godbole said both cities offer competitive advantages to attract young workers. Both Charlotte and Dallas, for instance, boast a relatively low cost of living compared with other places ripe with technology jobs, such as Silicon Valley.

“Our location strategy is about attracting talent. We are marching toward that plan,” said Godbole, who added that Lowe’s has already hired about 250 software engineers as part of its plan announced in December. “Finalization of a location gives us that supercharge.”

A decision about the location of the tech hub is expected to be made by the end of summer, Godbole said.

A new tech hub

Marvin Ellison was named CEO of Lowe’s exactly one year ago. Ellison has said Lowe’s is in the early stages of a major overhaul, which includes revamping stores, improving product inventory, shutting down under-performing business units and improving IT. On Wednesday, Lowe’s reported first quarter earnings that fell short of expectations, sending its shares plummeting 12%.

When announcing the plan to hire 2,000 IT workers at Lowe’s annual analyst and investor conference in December, Ellison said that Lowe’s has fallen behind when it comes to tech innovation. Having a team of new tech hires in one central hub is intended to address the company’s digital needs.

In the Dallas region, local officials have worked with Lowe’s “to support and encourage selection of DFW as a corporate center,” according to Mike Rosa, senior vice president of economic development at the Dallas Regional Chamber.

“Here, Lowe’s would have access to the largest business-friendly tech and innovation hub in the United States, in addition to our many other regional assets. We hope Lowe’s chooses to grow, prosper and partner with us in DFW,” Rosa said.

Godbole, former senior vice president of digital and marketing technology at Target who has been with Lowe’s for about six months, would not say whether the new tech hub will require a newly constructed office, or if it will occupy an existing building or tower.

Proximity to a train is an attractive feature for Lowe’s, since many young people commute to work that way, Godbole added.

In Charlotte, uptown and South End, which is increasingly becoming home to more corporate offices, fit the bill.

Financial services firm Dimensional Fund Advisors recently opened its newly constructed East Coast headquarters office in South End, for instance. Nearby, Charlotte fintech company LendingTree announced in April that it’s moving its headquarters from Ballantyne to a new tower being built on South Tryon Street at Carson Boulevard.

Lowe’s employs over 28,000 people in North Carolina.

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As the retail and sports business reporter for the Observer, Katie Peralta covers everything from grocery-store competition in Charlotte to tax breaks for pro sports teams. She is a Chicago native and graduate of the University of Notre Dame.
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