New AvidXchange headquarters help position Charlotte as ‘Silicon South’

AvidXchange broke ground Monday on its new headquarters at the N.C. Music Factory, a quickly evolving campus the firm hopes to help turn into a hub for other technology companies.

During a ceremony, AvidXchange also said it recently closed a $225 million funding round, led by Bain Capital Ventures, which will help finance its ambitious growth plans. Last year the company said it plans to create more then 600 new jobs at its new headquarters.

AvidXchange is well on its way to meeting those hiring goals, said Michael Praeger, founder and chief executive officer, and the company has already hired 180 people this year. AvidXchange hopes to open its new, 200,000-square-foot building on Hamilton Street, across from VBGB beer hall and garden, by early 2017.

“We’re now officially on the map. Our hope is this will attract additional investment capital to support more growing and enterprising technology companies in the region,” Praeger said.

Joining several of the firm’s executives, Gov. Pat McCrory said companies like AvidXchange are positioning Charlotte as the “Silicon South.” The region is potentially attractive for tech companies like some of those in California’s Silicon Valley, McCrory said.

Charlotte has an “incredible opportunity to compete because of the quality of life, the talent, the cost of living (and) strong leadership,” McCrory said. “I think we’ll be able to prove that.”

AvidXchange, which automates bill payments and invoices for midsized companies, said last year its expansion is being aided by about $7.5 million in state tax incentives, along with an additional $1.1 million from the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

Praeger told the Observer that Charlotte’s talent pool makes it a viable city for a tech company to expand. Big companies in the area, such as Bank of America, have done a “phenomenal job” of bringing capable workers into the community, he said.

“We’re really piggybacking off what they started. We really have them to thank in terms of being the catalysts to bring talent into the market,” Praeger said.

The firm had been operating out of a space in the Metropolitan near uptown, and they have employees at temporary offices in a different Music Factory building. It’s a big expansion from AvidXchange’s roots: Praeger said the company was founded 15 years ago in a small warehouse at Ninth and Brevard streets.

AvidXchange has said the new jobs it’s creating will pay about $52,000 on average, and will include software developers, engineers, finance, research and development, and project management posts.

Elsewhere in the N.C. Music Factory, the Ark Group and Woodfield started construction earlier this month on a 205-unit apartment complex. The apartments are expected to open in about 18 months near N.C. Music Factory Boulevard and Graham Street.

Praeger said he anticipates the Music Factory’s restaurants and nightlife will help attract young employees and more tech companies. Music Factory spots such Mattie’s Diner and the Comedy Zone have been longtime favorites of AvidXchange employees, the company has said. At AvidXchange, the average age of an employee is 35.

“We feel like we’re just part of the neighborhood,” Praeger said.

Staff writer Ely Portillo contributed

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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