PayPal announced Tuesday it would halt plans to open a $3.6 million operations center in Charlotte, less than two weeks after North Carolina passed a law discriminating against LGBT people.
"Legislation has been abruptly enacted by the State of North Carolina that invalidates protections of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens and denies these members of our community equal rights under the law," PayPal said in its statement. "The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture."
The company was expected to hire up to 400 people for the center.
In addition to banning transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender with which they identify, the law, known as HB2, prevents cities and counties from adopting their own anti-discrimination measures. It also prevents fired employees from filing discrimination suits in the state.
PayPal now joins the following companies that have taken concrete steps to pull out from the Tar Heel State
- Film company Lionsgate is pulling production for a new Hulu show that was supposed to be filmed in Charlotte; they were expected to hire 100 workers, according to station Fox46.
- Google Ventures announced it would no longer invest in North Carolina until House Bill 2 was repealed
The Charlotte Observer reported that Republican supporters of the law are nevertheless digging in; House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger said in a statement that Democratic Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, who has called the law "appalling," should stop her "misinformation campaign" and immediately "start telling the truth about this commonsense bathroom safety law."
Local analysts expect more companies to follow PayPal's suit.
"The worst thing about PayPal’s announcement Tuesday was that it seemed to signal not the wave but its first ominous signs, the birds heading inland, the water receding from the shore," Charlotte Magazine wrote of Tuesday's news. "The wave itself is still out there. But it’s coming, and nobody yet knows how big it’ll be when it does hit, or what it’ll leave behind."
We can get a sense of the wave at stake from the N.C. Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s annual Innovators Report, which showed companies in technology, life sciences, cleantech, and advanced manufacturing raised $1.2 billion in equity financing through 191 deals last year, more than doubling what companies raised in 2014. Seventy-five percent of the institutional investment in North Carolina companies came from outside of the state, the report said.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.