- Associated Press - Friday, May 6, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Business software company Salesforce announced Friday that it will add about 800 jobs to its Indianapolis workforce, despite threatening last year to reduce investment in Indiana over a religious objections law widely criticized as discriminatory to gay people.

The San Francisco-based company’s expansion will not only lead to the hiring of hundreds of new workers, it will also see the Salesforce name added to the state’s tallest building, changing the downtown 48-story Chase Tower to Salesforce Tower Indianapolis.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud CEO Scott McCorkle said the expansion couldn’t have happened without revisions to the state law last year that protected an Indianapolis ordinance banning discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity. And he says the company’s larger presence will lend a bigger voice on such issues as adding civil rights protection for lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people into state law.

“Our presence here as active investing members of this community gives us a great platform to continue this fight to ensure there’s no discrimination of our employees or anyone in the entire state,” McCorkle said after he was joined by Republican Gov. Mike Pence and Democratic Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett to make the announcement.

When asked about the Indianapolis expansion in light of Salesforce’s corporate activism on LGBT rights matters, including the company’s support for a failed effort last legislative session that would have created statewide LGBT protections, McCorkle said: “we have to run our business” while adding that the company will continue to be an advocate.

Salesforce now has more than 1,000 Indiana employees, a legacy of its 2013 purchase of Indianapolis-based ExactTarget for more than $2.3 billion. The expansion is predicted to pump an additional $122 million into the local economy, according to state estimates. If the company meets it’s hiring goal it is eligible for up to $17.2 million in state tax credits.

When asked about the Indianapolis expansion in light of Salesforce’s corporate activism on LGBT rights matters, including the company’s support for a failed effort last legislative session that would have created statewide LGBT protections, McCorkle said: “we have to run our business” while adding that the company will continue to advocate for the issue.

“We are committed to completely eliminating even the perception of discrimination,” McCorkle said. “The best way to is with a statewide non-discrimination provision in our civil rights code, and we are committed to seeing that through.”

The Friday announcement at one of Salesforce’s downtown offices presented an unusual scenario where Pence, who supported last year’s religious objections law and reacted coolly to LGBT rights proposals this year, stood alongside McCorkle and Hogsett as the two took turns highlighting the importance of LGBT rights, which are protected by an Indianapolis ordinance.

Still, Pence was effusive with praise for the company, calling the expansion a big win for Indiana, though he declined to elaborate about whether Salesforce’s position on the issue of LGBT rights has since influenced his thinking.

“Today is really not about the past. It is about the future,” said Pence, who is facing a difficult re-election bid against former Democratic House Speaker John Gregg. “The future of Indiana in technology and across the board in our economy couldn’t be more bright because of the pro-business environment we created.”

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