A possible new corporate hub for tech giant Apple Inc. could be built in the Raleigh-Durham area, according to several reports released over the last week. The news is being met with a mix of backlash and optimistic hope.
A state government official and an economic development official released the potential move by Apple to The Associated Press last week. The new project could bring 5,000 jobs to the state, later developing into 10,000 jobs. Neither Apple nor state legislative leaders have commented directly on the potential move.
Advocates, however, were quick to release statements and reactions.
Nationally, advocates are pressuring Apple to choose more LGBTQ-friendly locales, citing North Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ HB2 and the less stringent law which replaced it.
“Apple has an opportunity to lead by locating and investing in places that fully protect LGBTQ people. North Carolina is not one of those places,” the Human Rights Campaign’s Kate Oakley told the AP.
Local and regional advocates, including Equality NC, the Raleigh LGBT Chamber and others, told the AP they’re hopeful an Apple presence could exert positive pressure to change anti-LGBTQ state laws.
“We see Apple as a top company in our country that has been honestly in the front lines of protecting LGBTQ employees. They have a track record of doing that for decades,” the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, told the AP. “As they look at the prospect of locating operations here, our expectation would be that they be as vocal about this issue in North Carolina as they have been in other communities where they’ve had a footprint.”
The passage of HB2 in March 2016 launched a tidal wave of companies and organizations pulling out of business with the state. Charlotte, where LGBTQ-inclusive laws had been passed prompting the state’s pre-emptive measure, lost its opportunity to host a major NBA All-Star game. Paypal and other companies also announced they would no longer seek to move business to the state.
A replacement law was approved one year later, doing away with most of HB2’s most restrictive measures, though it also pre-empted local governments from passing new non-discrimination ordinances until the end of 2020.