Chime Solutions, a Black-owned business based near Atlanta, is bringing 250 jobs to Charlotte, part of a city initiative to grow the local economy.
The company will hire life and health insurance agents earning wages of $16 an hour with potential for bonuses, according to the company.
Chime made the announcement Tuesday, along with Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles and city council member James Mitchell, who heads the city’s workforce and business development committee. They were joined by Urban League of Central Carolinas CEO Teddy McDaniel.
In exchange for bringing the jobs to Charlotte, Chime will receive funding under a new economic development program approved by city council in February. The program, which provides “opportunity hiring grants,” provides $2,500 per hire, up to 50 employees, to help attract new companies and encourage existing ones to expand.
To qualify for the incentives, Chime must recruit full-time workers from any of several local workforce development organizations, such as the Urban League of Central Carolinas, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, Charlotte Works, Charlotte Area Fund and others.
A timely announcement
The announcement comes as Charlotte-Mecklenburg struggles to overcome the economic pain of the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to mass layoffs and businesses closing, not just in Charlotte but worldwide.
According to state figures, more than 1 million North Carolina residents have filed unemployment claims since the pandemic began. In the Charlotte metro area, the jobless rate is estimated at nearly 13%. Especially hard hit have been the city’s tourism and hospitality industries.
Lyles said she hopes the new jobs created by Chime can provide new opportunities for workers in the city who face employment challenges.
“Our goal is to model the ability for people to move upward,” she said, noting that Charlotte continues to struggle with economic mobility issues for some of its residents.
The announcement also comes as Black residents are protesting by the thousands in large cities nationwide, demanding an end to police brutality and the economic and social systems that deprive Black Americans of equal opportunity.
Chime’s founder, president and CEO, Mark Wilson, has said that his company is especially focused on providing economic opportunity in America’s poor communities.
At Tuesday’s press conference, he noted the “troubling times of late” and decried the “overlooked talent” in America.
“We’re trying to do our part as a company by virtue of expansions like this to Charlotte to dispel a lot of the old legacy myths that surround people of color and their talent,” he said. “We’re actually disproving that we somehow are less talented.”
Wilson said the Charlotte jobs will allow employees to work from home, answering calls from retirees seeking information about the life and health insurance benefits provided by their former employer.
Job candidates will receive eight weeks of training through Central Piedmont Community College to prepare for the exam needed to become a licensed insurance agent. The training will be paid for under a state program designed to spur economic development. Chime will cover the cost of taking the exam.
McDaniel, who heads the local Urban League, called the jobs a stepping stone to opportunity.
“It’s about wages and the fact that they are gaining a credential,” he told reporters. “This is a license that they can take [with them], so that’s very important to our underserved communities.”
Wilson founded Chime in 2015 with his wife, Shelly Wilson, who is the company’s chief operating officer. Headquartered in Marrow, Georgia, about 10 miles south of downtown Atlanta, the company now operates call centers in several cities, including a 75,000-square-foot facility in Charlotte’s University area.
The company opened its first operations in Charlotte last fall, promising to create 1,000 jobs by the end of 2020. Wilson told QCity Metro at the time that those jobs would offer a starting wage of at least $14 an hour after training, a pay rate he said is above the industry average.