South Charlotte

Companies say Ballantyne amenities attract businesses to the area

Three representatives from companies located in Ballantyne said during a meeting of the Ballantyne Chapter of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce that the community attracted them for a slew of reasons, including a skilled workforce, lifestyle amenities, a sense of community and accessibility to partnerships with other businesses in the area.

Representatives from MetLife, XPO Logistics and Publix spoke on the panel during the Ballantyne Chapter’s luncheon Sept. 4.

Mark Bryant, second vice chairman of the Ballantyne chapter board of directors, led the discussion.

“I would say three things that made Charlotte and Ballantyne very attractive for us are talent, partnership and community,” said James Boylan, vice president at MetLife.

Boylan described how the company enjoyed “tremendous success in finding talent” in the area and said MetLife had filled 1,100 jobs since July.

He also said that the company was pleased with the partnerships it has formed in the area and said the chamber has been instrumental in introducing the company to other organizations with which it could collaborate.

Boylan also said he was impressed with the MetLife building in Ballantyne, saying the facility “is just beyond belief. It’s a top-shelf facility.”

“Quite honestly, it’s the centerpiece for the company,” he said. “People come to Ballantyne to see our offices and use our offices. There’s a tremendous amount of buzz about Charlotte and Ballantyne.”

MetLife, considered one of the largest life-insurance companies in the world, serves more than 100,000 people and operates in nearly 50 countries, said Bryant.

John Tuomala, vice president of talent management with XPO Logistics, said the freight company settled in Charlotte because it was seeking an “untapped market where the talent pool was rich.”

He also alluded to some North Carolina tax incentives that encouraged the company to move to Charlotte.

“Probably the biggest reason is the hospitality we received during the courting process, and the talent as well,” said Tuomala.

XPO Logistics has more than 3,000 employees, about 325 of whom work locally, said Bryant.

Kimberly Reynolds, media and community relations manager with Publix, said opening stores in North Carolina, and particularly Charlotte, was a natural extension of the company’s existing geography. The Florida-based company has outlets in Georgia, South Carolina and other Southeastern states.

“It made sense to continue to grow north, specifically Charlotte,” she said. “It was and continues to be the No. 1 city requested for Publix to come to.”

Publix is considered the largest employee-owned supermarket in the nation and has about 168,000 employees, said Bryant. The company is expected to open five more locations in the Charlotte metro area by the end of the year, said Reynolds.

Looking forward, Tuomala said, he thinks the Ballantyne area needs to do a better job competing for early career professionals. He said XPO has no problem attracting professional-level employees looking to settle down, but younger professionals sometimes are a different story.

“It would make a huge difference and take a lot of pressure off recruiting and not competing for downtown” by adding amenities that appeal to younger professionals, he said.

Tuomala did not specify what type of amenities he would like to see.

Reynolds said there’s certainly no shortage of employees in general who want to relocate to the Ballantyne area, including herself.

“I was so excited to have the opportunity to relocate here,” she said. “It’s easy to get folks to come. The community has welcomed us with open arms.”