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Arizona company rethinks Jacksonville following human rights vote

5:41 PM, Oct 5, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- An Arizona company scouting port cities on the East Coast is looking beyond Jacksonville following a negative vote this summer on a human rights bill that would have included gays and lesbians from discrimination.

Pantheon Enterprises no longer has the city on its radar said Marianna Smith, who is on the board of directors. Smith, who is from Jacksonville, wanted to see Pantheon to expand here.

In a Florida Times-Union letter to the editor, Smith outlined how the council's action and the way the anti-discrimination bill was handled as factors in taking the city out of contention.

"To build a business, you need more than just land; you need a favorable environment for employees," wrote Smith in a letter published in The Times-Union.

City councilman Don Redman said legislation that was voted down did not give the city a black eye or harm the city's business image.

"If they had to adhere to the policies that they wanted to put in effect, they would go out of business," said Redman on what some local businesses told him about the potential consequences.

Carrington Mead, who is a local gay rights advocate, said she is hardly surprised a company saw the human rights debate and vote as a negative.

"It looked like a fight between, amongst a bunch of middle schoolers instead of sophisticated adults who understood what the real issues were," said Mead, who is an attorney.

First Coast News

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