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Via: CharlotteObserver.com

Outdoor power equipment manufacturer Husqvarna is bringing 160 new jobs and a $2.75 million expansion project to Charlotte, company officials announced Thursday morning.

The new jobs and expansion are tied to Husqvarna’s moving its North American headquarters from Augusta, Ga., to Charlotte.

Company officials said that while salaries will vary by job type, the overall average annual wage for the 160 new jobs will be $79,453, not including benefits. That compares to the Mecklenburg County average of $48,776.

“It’s seven days into the new year, and yet another great job announcement,” Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx said during a news conference this morning at a Husqvarna facility on Statesville Road in north Charlotte.

The company’s parent, Husqvarna AB of Sweden, has ties to appliance giant Electrolux, which announced plans last month to move its headquarters to Charlotte.

Electrolux spun off Husqvarna AB, and soon after, the company completed a series of acquisitions, adding to its portfolio of power equipment including chain saws, trimmers, blowers and cutting equipment. It now has 15,700 employees worldwide.

Husqvarna plans to consolidate its Consumer Outdoor Products subsidiary in Augusta with its Professional Products office in Charlotte to create the North American headquarters.

Company officials said they will begin hiring next month and expect to complete filling the jobs in the first quarter of 2011. The jobs will cover a variety of occupations, ranging from administration to engineering to sales. No manufacturing jobs are part of the expansion, Husqvarna officials said.

“This decision by a top international company such as Husqvarna shows what trade magazines have long said – that Charlotte is among the nation’s best places to live and do business,” Gov. Bev Perdue said.

Husqvarna, based in Sweden, employs more than 15,000 workers in 42 countries. It is the world’s largest producer of chainsaws, lawn mowers, and other gas-powered garden equipment, such as trimmers and leaf blowers. Its products are sold under such brand names as Husqvarna, Poulan, Weed Eater and Dixon.

Mike Jones, president of the company’s North America/Latin America Sales and Service Division, said the decision to move the headquarters from August to Charlotte was not easy.

“However, we believe consolidation will produce operational efficiency and synergy across multiple areas, driving increased speed to market for many of our products,” he said.

Husqvarna is getting help from the state in making the move. The company will receive a Job Development Investment Grant, equal to 55 percent of the state personal income withholding taxes from new jobs created by the company. State commerce officials estimate that grant could be worth up to $2.5 million to the company.

In addition, Husqvarna could receive up to $840,000 from the state’s Industrial Development Fund for infrastructure improvements.

“The incentives offered are making the economics of this possible,” Husqvarna’s Jones said.

“Very few, if any, relocations happen without incentives,” Foxx said. “To be competitive, it’s just a reality of the world we live in now.”

Jones said Charlotte was attractive in a number of ways.

“We agree with the Governor that Charlotte is one of the top areas of the country to live and work,” he said. “The area has a strong, educated work force and excellent access to transportation.”

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