Ga. Religious Exemptions Veto ‘Pertinent’ In GE Relocation

Johnny Kauffman / WABE

A GE executive on Monday, at the formal announcement the corporation will be opening its digital headquarters in Atlanta, called Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of a controversial religious exemptions bill “definitely pertinent” to the corporation’s decision.

“We respect everyone’s rights, and we have a very open view to employment, and we would be hard-pressed to set up operations any place that discriminated on any basis,” said Jim Fowler, GE’s chief information officer, “The fact that the governor vetoed the bill – the fact that’s not an issue here – is definitely pertinent in us putting a location here.”

Georgia for months was trying to land not GE’s digital headquarters, but the corporate headquarters, which are headed for Boston.

“I certainly think the effort we put forward to try to attract the home office helped with this effort,” Deal told reporters.

Deal, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and Georgia Commissioner of Economic Development Chris Carr formally announced Monday the new $3 million headquarters in an undetermined Midtown location will employ 250 people.

Earlier this year business played a big role in the debate over legislation that critics said would have led to discrimination against people who lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Proponents of the bill said Deal caved to business interests by vetoing it, but the Republican governor has said he doesn’t see a need for it.  

On Monday, at the GE announcement, Deal said he hoped the corporations decision would spark even more relocations.

He said the move “sends a message to the broader community of other companies who are trying to make similar decisions to what GE has made, and hopefully those decisions will come our way.”