There’s more evidence that Republicans are bad for North Carolina. Since they’ve taken control, our growth rate has slowed from 18.5% in the first decade of this century to 11.4% projected for this decade. While some of the slow down might be blamed on the Great Recession, the negative publicity from Republican policies like HB2, Amendment One, voter suppression laws and extreme gerrymandering make the state less welcoming. Other fast growing states didn’t see their growth rates decrease as much as ours.

The best way to change that perception is to change leadership. Restoring our reputation as a moderately progressive state that’s open to everyone will take time. Bringing companies like Apple to North Carolina will go a long way toward reversing the negative impressions of the state.

Unfortunately, some Democratic allies are hoping that the legislature’s support of HB2 will keep Apple and Amazon out of North Carolina. They want the state to feel the pain of bad policies, but clearly, that’s already happened. The best way to reverse the attitudes that lead to reactionary and discriminatory legislation is to increase the influence of people and voters who want change.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook is a graduate of Duke University and gay. He’s also looking to bring about 10,000 jobs to some state. It might as well be ours. Apple’s economic footprint would be far larger than just the number of jobs. It would change the face of the state and give Apple political influence. A guy like Cook could have far more impact in reversing or preventing discriminatory policies if he’s in the state instead of out.

Republican policies have certainly made businesses skittish about moving here, but boycotts that keep progressive companies out of North Carolina will prevent the state from evolving into a more welcoming place. We need more people like Tim Cook exerting influence, not fewer. We need the high-paying jobs, that in turn bring an educated workforce, to build the critical mass necessary to combat discriminatory policies.

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