As I drove to work on Monday, I wondered what if any paperwork required updating with my own human resource department, after legally marrying in New York over the summer, and now that North Carolina recognized my marriage — I imagined other same sex couples doing the same resulting in busy HR departments around the state.
Then I wondered which major companies and entrepreneurs around the country (and globe), who had originally written off North Carolina as a future relocation site, had placed it back in the “maybe” pile.
In Durham and the Triangle region, talent has long been the magnet that attracts companies like Merck, IEM, Purdue Pharma Manufacturing, and most recently Argos Therapeutics, thanks in large part to our top-level universities and community colleges. In economic development, talent previously followed companies, but now companies follow talent. Today’s talent seeks vibrant, creative, diverse, and affordable communities, with good public transport options and where the potential to achieve quality of life is high.
Durham has become one of the most exciting and diverse areas in the region over the past several years, and continues to grow rapidly.
The Chamber recognizes that Durham is a diverse community and this characteristic has served it well for decades, and one of the things that has become central to its brand. A barrier to creating greater diversity, is an obstruction to talent attraction, and ultimately undermines the chamber’s ability to be effective in its economic development pursuits. The Durham Chamber let out a proud woot woot! on Friday, when Asheville Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. overturned Amendment 1, returning North Carolina, and Durham in particular, to the openness that has made it the community it is today.
The Durham Chamber’s board of directors publicly announced its opposition toward the legislative action amending North Carolina’s constitution that made it unconstitutional to recognize or perform same sex marriages and civil unions in early 2012. This group of Durham’s business leaders agreed that the constitutional amendment would have a negative impact on the state’s attraction and retention of top-level companies and talent. On May 8, 2012, voters approved the amendment, and the Durham business community felt strongly the state suffered a great loss. It has been a roller coaster, but it finally feels like we’re taking a turn for the better, for Durham, for individuals, for companies, and for me.