South Carolina

Here’s how Charlotte lost more than 1,000 good-paying jobs to South Carolina

A rendering shows what RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing Corp.’s new headquarters in Fort Mill, S.C., could look like.
A rendering shows what RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing Corp.’s new headquarters in Fort Mill, S.C., could look like.

North Carolina offered millions of dollars in incentives to retain a Charlotte mortgage company that eventually chose to relocate to South Carolina, according to documents obtained by the Observer through a public records request.

North Carolina’s negotiations with RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing Corp. also turned testy last year, other documents indicate. The documents provide an inside look at the state’s ultimately failed efforts.

In May, RoundPoint Mortgage announced a decision to shift its headquarters across the state line, where it plans to roughly double its employment to about 1,100. Had the company stayed in Charlotte, that expansion would have happened here.

The firm, launched in Charlotte in 2007, is leaving its home near Charlotte Douglas International Airport to offices being built at the former Knights Stadium property in Fort Mill, S.C.

North Carolina offered an incentives package worth about $4.3 million, including a $3.5 million grant and $835,500 in community college training for employees, according to a September 2017 proposal. In exchange, RoundPoint would invest $34 million in its expansion, the document shows.

The expansion would have added 557 jobs in Mecklenburg County over five years, at an average annual wage of $65,940, according to the proposal. Records obtained by the Observer from the county show the county and city were willing to provide as much as $1.9 million combined to retain the firm. RoundPoint has about 600 jobs in Charlotte now.

RoundPoint’s CEO became frustrated during negotiations over not hearing directly from Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland, according to the emails.

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The emails detail communications between North Carolina economic development officials who were faced around this time last year with the potential loss of the company. In those communications, the project went by the code name Leia.

Economic development officials were worried about giving financial incentives to a mortgage firm, the emails also show.

In a September 2017 email, Colin Kiser, business-recruitment manager for the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, said that during a meeting with RoundPoint executives he had expressed “some concern over the potential of another recession and what that would (do) to their employment numbers.”

The email was sent to Susan Fleetwood, executive director of economic development for the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

After such concerns were shared, RoundPoint CEO Kevin Brungardt indicated a willingness to have a call with Copeland, according to a November email from Kiser to Fleetwood.

Once Brungardt’s invitation was extended, “nothing came to fruition for a few weeks,” Kiser wrote in the email.

“When an incentive proposal was issued, it had an asterisk attached, that this was the final offer, and there would be no increase,” Kiser wrote. “This was not received well by the company, especially that this message was not delivered from the Secretary, since there was an open invitation from the CEO to converse.”

Copeland later agreed to have a call with the CEO, Kiser wrote in the same email.

The partnership is a public-private group that is tasked with recruiting new businesses to the state. A spokeswoman for the partnership said it had no comment.

A spokeswoman for the commerce department said Copeland was traveling and unavailable for comment.

‘Zero complaints’

Speaking to the Observer this week, CEO Brungardt praised the efforts of North and South Carolina to woo his company and said he had “zero complaints” about economic officials in either state.

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He said his company had negotiated with the two states after outgrowing its three buildings in Parkway Plaza Business Park. RoundPoint has gone from servicing roughly $2.5 billion in mortgages in 2010 when Brungardt was named CEO to a projected $90 billion at the end of this year, he said.

The privately held company’s first choice was to remain in Charlotte where it was started, he said.

“North Carolina put their best foot forward,” Brungardt said. “It just couldn’t match South Carolina.”

RoundPoint plans to relocate its Charlotte employees to its new location, where it expects to add the new jobs over the next 12 to 18 months, Brungardt said.

South Carolina officials this year announced that the state is providing a $500,000 grant to York County to help with site preparation and building construction. In the same press release, the state also said it awarded an unspecific amount of job development credits to lure RoundPoint.

A spokeswoman for the South Carolina Department of Commerce said the credits are based on factors including the company’s hourly wage rate.

Nearly 175 people rallied in Durham on Labor Day for higher wages and union representation for fast-food and other service workers.

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Once a company begins collecting the credits, that figure is not subject to disclosure due to taxpayer confidentiality, the spokeswoman said.

For Charlotte, it’s another company to cross the border.

Others that have also relocated to South Carolina in recent years include Movement Mortgage, LPL Financial and Diversey, a cleaning products company that was spun off from Bubble Wrap maker Sealed Air.

Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts
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