DURHAM, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper spoke with Politico writers Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer Thursday at Duke University, where he outlined his priorities going forward.
He said he intends to invest in public education, secure Amazon’s second headquarters for Raleigh, and see his party win back the North Carolina General Assembly.
Cooper talked up the repeal of House Bill 2, which was a compromise in the form of House Bill 142, which kept much of the same discrimination in place. Bathroom policies as well as nondiscrimination ordinances still must pass through the General Assembly. The Republican party currently holds a supermajority in both the House and Senate.
Of securing headquarters in the state, Cooper said “we are very much in the running not only for Amazon, but for a lot of companies, especially on the West coast, technology companies that are looking to establish their HQ2’s, and their second headquarters. And North Carolina is definitely in the running for that, and I think we are one of the places that Amazon would strongly consider, and will strongly consider.”
Raleigh has already made it onto the shortlist of possible cities where Amazon might place its second headquarters, and when asked when he expected to hear from the company, Cooper said he didn’t know.
“They are on their own timeline,” he said.
“I do know this, had we not repealed House Bill 2, we would not even be in the discussion,” he added, to applause.
“But we have more work to do in the area of fighting discrimination and encouraging diversity,” he continued. “I think diversity is one of our strengths in North Carolina. I’ve issued one of the strongest executive orders that require that all of our state employees (does not discriminate against) the LGBTQ community. Also, we can’t contract with companies that don’t provide those protections, this is part of that executive order.”
“And our goal needs to be statewide anti-discrimination protections,” he continued. “A lot of these companies are talking to me and relying on me to make sure we continue to move North Carolina in the right direction of fighting discrimination, showing the inclusive state that we know we are, the diverse state that we know we are, but that some of our leaders took us off the rails (from being).”
Cooper added that there was some level of concern about coming to North Carolina, but said companies are encouraged by the developments taking place in the state.
“We’re the number one state in the country with women in the tech force, and with all of our HBCU’s and our great diversity, we provide that workforce for these companies. They know that,” he added.
LGBTQ rights advocates have been urging the company to avoid North Carolina, along with other states without sufficient laws protecting LGBTQ rights, with a campaign called “No Gay? No Way!”
Watch the discussion below. The topic of diversity and the HB2 repeal comes at around the 6 minute mark.