RALEIGH – A visiting team of Amazon officials that recently toured the Triangle seeking information about whether the region is a fit for its $5 billion, 50,000 job HQ2 project reportedly grilled Gov. Roy Cooper about House Bill2, the so-called “bathroom bill” that was repealed last year.

“In North Carolina, company representatives asked pointed questions of Gov. Roy Cooper (D) about several state policies such as the bathroom bill,’ which restricted the use of public facilities by transgender people, according to a person in the room,” The Washington Post reported Friday morning.

A spokesperson for the Governor would not discuss the Post story. However, Sadie Weiner did say:

“We won’t comment on specific economic development projects, but whenever anyone asks the governor about HB2, he addresses it directly, outlining everything North Carolina is doing be an inclusive and welcoming place, from repealing HB2 to signing an executive order to prohibit discrimination in state contracting.”

HB2 continues to be a subject of criticism for the state. Earlier this week, Cooper noted at a ground breaking for a new Credit Suisse project in the Triangle that North Carolina had moved on. Credit Suisse had said repeal of the law was a requirement before picking the state last year.

“We were smart enough to bring people together to repeal House Bill 2, we were smart enough to know that truly North Carolina is inclusive and that we welcome people, and that now that message can be put not only across the country but across the globe,” Cooper said, as reported by WRAL’s Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie.

HB2 did trigger losses of other business such as a PayPal expansion and the moving of the NBA All-Star game from Charlotte.

LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) equality has emerged as an issue in the Amazon HQ2 process since earlier this year. The Post story noted other officials representing the final 20 metros, which includes the Triangle as named by Amazon, where the issue was raised.

Fallout from that bill has been seen as a problem for NC officials pitching the Triangle to Amazon from the start of the process, according to people familiar with the state’s discussions. Other problems included a perceived lack of public support, lack of mass transit, and whether there would be enough talent available for Amazon to fill 50,000 jobs. But in many reports and analyses published this year the Triangle tends to score well.

LGBT campaign targets NC

The group calling itself “No Gay No Way” launched an LGBT campaign targeting Amazon in March. It includes references to Amazon’s Alexa artificial intelligence assistant asking “Hey Alexa … Is Amazon really considering building HQ2 in North Carolina – a state that discriminates against LGBT people?”

Conor Gaughan, campaign manager for the campaign, said in a statement that the Post story about Amazon’s emphasis on equality issues “heartened” the group.
“We are heartened to read the news that ‘rights for and acceptance of gay and transgender people [are] part of its criteria in choosing a second headquarters,” he said.

“While this is a positive step in the right direction, we continue to seek explicit clarification on how such a consideration impacts the HQ2 search process. We hope in the coming days, Amazon will officially confirm the news, and will offer public guidance on the ongoing process.”

The Post story, which cites unnamed sources for the report, says Amazon officials “have asked public officials about what sort of ‘compatible cultural and community environment’ — the wording from the company’s search parameters — each city offers, adding to speculation about whether Amazon will choose a liberal stronghold.”

The Post adds that “Amazon has quietly made rights for and acceptance of gay and transgender people part of its criteria in choosing a second headquarters.”

However, The Post noted that “Amazon also declined to answer questions about the meetings, and it is not known how much a region’s stance on gay rights will factor into its decision.”