Lowe’s is looking to Charlotte for what it couldn’t find in Mooresville: a tech-heavy workforce, a booming population of millennials and a hip vibe to help attract them.
The company’s Mooresville headquarters was never seriously considered as a potential home for up to 2,000 technology-focused jobs. The company’s choice of Charlotte’s trendy South End area – just a short scooter ride south from uptown – reflects president and CEO Marvin Ellison’s vision to transform Lowe’s corporate culture and overall brand.
Employees at the planned 23-story Design Center Tower “will create technology solutions that will accelerate our commitment to becoming a best-in-class, omni-channel retailer and strengthen our associate and customer experiences,” Ellison said at a June 25 event announcing the selection.
Dallas also was considered for the new tech jobs, according to earlier news reports.
State incentives totaling $54 million over 12 years helped seal the deal for Charlotte. Lowe’s said it plans to spend $153 million on the project, will create 1,600 jobs and move 400 positions from Mooresville to the new center.
“We’re excited to stand up our new global technology center here in North Carolina to continue to drive our company’s growth,” said Ellison, who joined the company in July 2018.
The new building will be in what’s known as the Design District, “the walkable center of South End,” the company said in its announcement.
Lowe’s will occupy 15 upper floors. Development partners Childress Klein and RAM Realty Advisors plan to break ground in August.
The Design Center Tower’s location near the Lynx Blue Line light rail, the Rail Trail, restaurants and housing will help lure top tech professionals, the company said. Lowe’s said it will work with state and local officials, as well as education leaders, to “add to the pipeline of tech talent that’s already a driving force in the state’s economic growth.”
“Companies need top talent to succeed today, and North Carolina offers one of the best IT workforces in the world,” said Gov. Roy Cooper, who was in Charlotte for the announcement. “Our state’s focus on education means our people bring the skills companies like Lowe’s look for when they’re working to transform their business.”
The Charlotte Plaza at 201 S. College St. in uptown will serve as the interim home for Lowe’s tech center, with the company occupying 200,000 square feet of office space on floors three through 10. Lowe’s tech professionals are expected to begin work this summer at the Charlotte Plaza.
Lowe’s expects to fill the first 400 new tech positions in the next year and plans to begin hiring for these roles immediately. Those jobs will include software and infrastructure engineers, data scientists, analysts, architects, user experience and user interface professionals, and artificial intelligence and machine learning engineers.
Lowe’s already has 28,000 employees in North Carolina.
In December, Lowe’s announced plans to invest more than $500 million annually through 2021 toward a “technology transformation.”
The company said it will maintain technology teams in some existing locations, including Mooresville; Kirkland, Wash.; and Bangalore, India.