Business impact of HB2 in limbo as companies call for repeal

— Gov. Pat McCrory met with the Human Rights Campaign president, the executive director of Equality N.C. and a transgender advocate Thursday to talk about House Bill 2 as several more businesses added their names to a long list calling for a repeal of the law.

National Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin was on hand to deliver the letter, signed by the CEOs of more than 100 corporations including Starbucks, Citibank, Hilton and Kellogg’s, to McCrory in person.

They’re calling on McCrory and state lawmakers to repeal House Bill 2, which they say is openly discriminatory against the LGBT community. Supporters of the law, however, don’t believe it will have economic impact.

Griffin said most major corporations have LGBT people in important roles and most won’t want to do business in a state where they’re not welcome.

“This governor and this legislature has sent the message to every single company in this country- all of those that the state is currently pitching in competition with other states to bring jobs here. He sent the message that this state is closed for business,” Griffin said.

Potential long-term economic impact is hard to assess, but tourism spending is already taking a hit with the High Point Furniture Market and Asheville reporting multiple cancellations due to the new law.

When Indiana passed a similar law last year, the City of Indianapolis lost $60 million in convention spending, according to the city’s tourism agency.

Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, which announced plans for a $25 million expansion in North Carolina on March 16, said on Thursday that they are reevaluating the decision in light of House Bill 2. In a statement released Thursday, the company said:

“Braeburn Pharmaceuticals believes in fair treatment and equality for all individuals in their communities. We oppose any legislation that discriminates against the LGBT community and are extremely disappointed with North Carolina’s recent passage of anti-discrimination legislation. Our central mission is to develop new treatments for patients with diseases that are often associated with stigma, such as addiction and schizophrenia. Building a manufacturing and research facility is a business necessity to ensure we fulfill our commitment to patients; we are reevaluating our options based on the recent, unjust legislation.”

Not all businesses oppose the new law, though. Tami Fitzgerald with the NC Values Coalition says hundreds have told her they support it, but most have asked to keep their names confidential for fear of backlash.

“The ones who don’t want their names made public are people who have to work every day. They don’t want their names made public because they don’t want to be badgered and sometimes they’re bullied by the LGBT activist community,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald doesn’t believe the controversy will cause any real economic loss. She believes the businesses opposing the new law will see a backlash of their own.

“The vast majority of people are grateful that the General Assembly and the governor passed this measure so this bullying going on by corporate America has to stop,” she said.

Fitzgerald’s group was scheduled to hold a prayer vigil Thursday night at 7 p.m. outside the Governor’s Mansion in downtown Raleigh. Another vigil is scheduled in Fayetteville near the county courthouse.

Opponents of the law are holding their own rallies Friday evening at 6 p.m. at the legislative building and Saturday afternoon at the Governor’s Mansion.

,Potential long-term economic impact is hard to assess, but tourism spending is already taking a hit with the High Point Furniture Market and Asheville reporting multiple cancellations due to the new law.

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