HB2 Costing North Carolina Billions in Lost Business, Says AP Report

The Associated Press this week reported that the controversial law, which prevents local governments from passing LGBT protections, will cost North Carolina at least $3.76 billion in revenue over a dozen years—including nearly $200 million in lost concert, sports, and conference revenue.

North Carolina’s controversial HB2 law, which blocks local governments from adopting antidiscrimination laws to protect LGBT people, has long faced claims that it would hurt the state’s economy.

Now, a new report from the Associated Press estimates that HB2 will cost North Carolina more than $3.76 billion in lost business over a dozen years, including $525 million this year alone. The estimate, which the AP says may not cover everything, directly points to major corporations—PayPal, Adidas, and CoStar among them—that have chosen not to build offices or factories in the state since HB2 was enacted a year ago. The loss of the PayPal operations center alone will cost the state more than $200 million per year, or $2.66 billion by 2028, the AP reported, citing a state Commerce Department analysis.

Additionally, the state has reportedly already lost $196 million in revenue from concerts, sporting events, and conventions in eight North Carolina cities, according to the AP’s interviews with tourism officials and meeting planners.

Tourism officials from several cities told the wire service that the numbers they shared represent only a fraction of the damage the law has done. That’s because they typically track large conventions but don’t have firm numbers for when groups cancel smaller meetings or events—or rule out North Carolina before booking.

“The biggest impact is how many times our phones are not ringing now,” said Shelly Green, CEO of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The CVB estimates that the law has deprived Durham of more than $11 million after large sporting events and conventions backed out. Green told the AP this number doesn’t include smaller events. “There are a lot more meetings that have canceled, but we don’t have data on them,” she said.

These problems could be amplified in the coming weeks, as the NCAA considers whether to keep its events out of North Carolina—a popular hub for college basketball tournaments—if the law is not repealed. The group will announce its championship venues for the next four years on April 18.

“Last year, the NCAA Board of Governors relocated NCAA championships scheduled in North Carolina because of the cumulative impact HB2 had on local communities’ ability to assure a safe, healthy, discrimination-free atmosphere for all those watching and participating in our events,” the NCAA said in a statement to USA Today. “Absent any change in the law, our position remains the same regarding hosting current or future events in the state.”

Several attempts to repeal HB2 since Gov. Roy Cooper was elected last year have failed.

The economic impact on North Carolina is cited regularly by opponents of similar measures in other states, including Texas, where Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has been making a push for a bill known as SB6.

The Texas bill, which ASAE and other organizations oppose, passed the state’s Senate earlier this month but faces a tough road in the Texas House, where legislative leaders have expressed reservations.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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