H.B. 2: What has NC lost?

Boycotts to date are 0.1 percent of the total state economy and a boycott backlash seems to be gearing up

Madeline Gray—North State Journal
Pat Carter

RALEIGH — The cancellations and dollar figures kept adding up through the summer and capturing headlines and air time: a concert here, a job expansion there, a sternly worded corporate letter and lots of threats. House Bill 2 is the law that set the first statewide anti-discrimination policy but also said that individuals in government buildings must use the multi-stalled restrooms of the gender listed their birth certificate.It triggered outcry among those who said it was discriminatory against the 0.5 percent of North Carolinians who are transgender, along with any visitors to the state who are. Supporters of the law called it common sense, saying it protected the privacy of girls and women in publicly owned facilities like school locker rooms. It primarily caused headaches for N.C.’s business developers when corporations and organizations canceled activities in the state saying the law ran counter to their inclusion principles.What did the boycotts mean for N.C.’s bottom line? While the publicity generated by the controversy was immeasurable, the actual impact on the economy has been relatively small, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Com merce.The losses from H.B. 2 boycotts have added up to about half a billion dollars for N.C. With a state GDP of more than $500 billion, the impact of those losses is approximately 0.1 percent of the state’s economy.The loss of the 2017 All Star game in Charlotte and decisions by the NCAA and the ACC to move championships out the state were the biggest hits to date, costing the state about $180 million. But there were smaller losses, too. This week the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) announced it would be relocating it’s World Series event from Kinston, in protest of H.B. 2, an event that has earned the small town $350,000 each of the last two years.”Just as recently as three weeks ago, the mayor of Charlotte had the opportunity to have a constructive dialogue with the state of North Carolina to right the ship,” said Kinston’s Mayor B.J. Murphy at a Monday press conference. “However Mayor Roberts chose politics over policy. Mayor Roberts chose politics over people. And Mayor Roberts chose politics over Kinston’s youth.”H.B. 2 opponents and others say the lost revenue is actually higher than is reportable because there is not a way to account for losing projects and events where N.C. could have been in the running but now isn’t. Others say the entire issue was politicized because of the hotly contested state gubernatorial election and the importance of N.C.’s battleground status in the race for the White House.As the boycotts of the state among collegiate sports associations grows, so too is the backlash by some member schools, as well as local politicians, for what they deem the unnecessary politicization of college sports.This week National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), announced it would relocate the 2016 Cross Country College Championships from Charlotte in protest of H.B. 2. The decision, however, did not sit well with at least two member schools.According to reports, the presidents of Oklahoma Wesleyan University and Missouri’s College of the Ozarks are opting to withdraw their schools’ teams from the competition rather than participate in the political protest.”How can we claim to be an organization that supports women if our leadership is so willing to deny female athletes the right to have their own bathrooms, showers, toilet and lavatory?” asked Oklahoma Wesleyan University President Everett Piper rhetorically at a press conference. “The NAIA’s disregard for such basic rights is sobering.”