Marc Benioff isn’t the only business leader threatening to move business out of Georgia because of a new bill that critics say discriminates against gay people.
Kelvin Williams, founder of telecom company 373K headquartered in Georgia, tells Business Insider that he’s already in the process of moving his company to Delaware.
He vowed to move in late February, when Bill 757, dubbed the “First Amendment Defence Act (FADA), initially passed the Georgia Senate. On Wednesday night, the bill also passed the Georgia House and is now headed to Governor Deal, who is being urged by Salesforce and others to veto it.
But Williams, who is gay, isn’t waiting to find out what the governor will do.
“When they passed FADA the first time, we decided to move at that point. Everyone thought it was a threat, but no. We were dead serious,” he said.
His decision to move earned him national attention and he heard from economic development officials all over the country inviting him to move his business to their states.
But Delaware did one better: Governor Jack Markell called Williams. “He extended a personal welcome to Delaware.”
On Thursday, 373K officially “became a Delaware corporation” and in the next couple of days, it will dissolve its Georgia corporate status. It will fully relocate to Delaware within couple of months, he said.
373K is a telecom provider with about 20 employees, and is hiring. Williams says his staff voted on the decision to relocate. Employees won’t be required to move if they want to stay in Georgia. 373K has many remote workers, he says.
And he’s not leaving the state just because he feels personally unwelcome but because he’s concerned for his employees, too, he says.
“One reason we decided to leave is because our employees are from around the world. You name it, we’ve got it here. What I tell people is that, under this law, if it is to become a law, I only have two employees that would be acceptable in the state of Georgia, only two heterosexuals that have only been married once,” he says.
His team includes people of multiple faiths (Muslim, Buddhists, atheists), single divorced parents, and members of the LGBT community, all of whom he fears could be targets of discrimination, or worse, in Georgia’s current political climate.
“The support versus the hate mail, it’s like 99% to 1%. But the hate mail we have gotten reaffirms our decision to leave,” he says.