Citing HB2, PayPal cancels planned Charlotte expansion

— PayPal, an online money transfer service, has canceled its plans to open an operations center in Charlotte, citing North Carolina’s new anti-discrimination law.

The company announced plans on March 18 to open its new global operations center that would have employed 400 people. Five days later, Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law House Bill 2, which barred transgender people from using the public bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

The law also excluded sexual orientation and gender identity as protected groups under a statewide anti-discrimination policy and prohibited cities and counties from extending such protections.

In an announcement Tuesday from PayPal Chief Executive Dan Schulman, the company said the new law “perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture.

“As a result, PayPal will not move forward with our planned expansion into Charlotte.”

Chris Sgro, executive director of LGBT advocacy group Equality NC, said the move “makes it clear as day that HB2 is dangerous and harmful legislation.”

“The Governor and our North Carolina General Assembly leadership must immediately make it clear that their intentions are to repeal HB2 when they will meet for session on April 25,” Sgro said in a statement. “This is a must if we are to remain an economically competitive state.”

Other firms reconsider NC expansions

PayPal is the second firm to withdraw business from North Carolina because of the discrimination law.

Last week, Lionsgate Films pulled a comedy series pilot from Charlotte and moved the production to Canada, citing House Bill 2.

“HB2 was a bad law to begin with, but now it’s costing North Carolina jobs,” Gerrick Brenner, executive director of left-leaning group Progress NC Action, said in a statement. “PayPal certainly won’t be the last big company to leave North Carolina unless this misguided law is repealed.”

Ric Elias, the chief executive of Red Ventures, a tech-based sales and marketing firm, wrote a letter to McCrory dated April 5 in which he said he might not expand as planned in Charlotte in the coming years.

“HB2 does not reflect the values of our people, our state or our democratic process. The speed with which it was passed and lack of constituent input enabled a select group of North Carolina representatives to ignore their responsibility to represent the whole state and, instead, eviscerate the civil rights of North Carolinians,” Elias wrote in the letter. “As a CEO who is committed to expanding our Charlotte presence by 500 people in 2016 and thousands after that, I am also forced to seriously reconsider adding more jobs in a state that tolerates discrimination and allows political interests to interfere with doing what is right for all citizens.”

State officials in December approved incentives of up to $2.65 million for Red Ventures to expand in Charlotte.

Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition, criticized stances by companies such as PayPal and Red Ventures that have received state incentives.

“PayPal had received millions of dollars in corporate incentives just to come to North Carolina, and a company with its hands in the pockets of the taxpayers of North Carolina shouldn’t insert itself into the bathroom policies of the state,” Fitzgerald said in a statement.

The new law also has become an issue on the campaign trail, as Attorney General Roy Cooper, the Democratic candidate for governor, called on McCrory to push for the law’s repeal.

“The threat that HB2 poses to jobs and our economy is no longer a possibility. It’s a reality,” Cooper said in a statement. “These are new, better-paying jobs North Carolina won’t get because Governor McCrory has put his political ideology above all else. It’s time to reverse course and take actions to undo the damage.”

,PayPal, an online money transfer service, has canceled its plans to open an operations center in Charlotte citing North Carolina’s anti-discrimination law.

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