CHARLOTTE – Chiquita CEO Fernando Aguirre said Tuesday a number of factors led his company to relocate its corporate headquarters south from Cincinnati to Charlotte, but one of the most powerful was the way locals took to social media to tell him why North Carolina's Queen City was the right choice.
"Frankly, it played a part in making us feel welcome. The Charlotte community was very proactive," he said.
Aguirre, who is active on Twitter himself, praised the #bananas4CLT hashtag and the thousands of Charlotteans who used it to sell and showcase their city.
"Your grassroots efforts to recruit our company were not only well noted, but providing a welcoming atmosphere as we considered Charlotte,” he said.
It's believed more than 100,000 followers saw the hashtag, spearheaded in large part by Brian Francis, an assistant to the Mecklenburg County manager.
"This was just a great opportunity for people from Charlotte to get the opportunity to participate in economic development, which doesn't happen very often,” said Francis.
Charlotte company High Cotton Ties, a local social media savvy company also got in on the act and made a personal push to Aguirre directly. In September, owner Judy Hill sent him a complimentary yellow and blue bowtie which he showed off on a Twitter picture and also proudly wore during Tuesday's announcement.
"They hopped right on Twitter. The whole environment has just been energized by Chiquita coming to Charlotte," Hill said.
The Charlotte Chamber also thanked Charlotteans on digital billboards across the region for tweeting the message again and again.