LGBT law puts Red Ventures expansion at risk, Indian Land CEO says

Red Ventures CEO Ric Elias during an interview on July 07,2015.
Red Ventures CEO Ric Elias during an interview on July 07,2015.

The CEO of Red Ventures, a prominent Charlotte-area marketing and technology firm, said he must “seriously reconsider” adding jobs in North Carolina in the wake of the state’s passage of House Bill 2.

Ric Elias posted a message Tuesday on Twitter to Gov. Pat McCrory. The company, based in South Carolina near the state line in Indian Land, has announced plans to invest more than $5 million and bring 500 new jobs to a site in Charlotte’s University Research Park.

“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,” Elias wrote.

In response to a follow-up question from the Observer about whether the company’s current plan to add 500 jobs in Charlotte is in jeopardy, Elias responded with a statement via email: “We’re hopeful HB2 is repealed because it’s the right thing to do. And if not, our long-term plans for aggressive expansion in North Carolina will change.”

His open letter came on the same day PayPal said it is canceling plans to open a new operations center in Charlotte and bring 400 jobs to University City because of the state’s new law that limits protections for LGBT individuals. The N.C. General Assembly passed the law last month to overturn a Charlotte ordinance that added protections against discrimination for LGBT individuals.

Elias also said he is switching his support from McCrory in this year’s gubernatorial election to Roy Cooper, McCrory’s Democratic opponent.

“As a former supporter I have always been open and honest with you, but as a citizen of North Carolina I am unable in good conscience to site idly by and watch while our democracy is manipulated,” Elias wrote. “The speed with which it (House Bill 2) was passed and the 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.”

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo