NCAA Ends HB 2 Boycott. Will Businesses Follow?
One HB 2 related boycott has come to an end. The NCAA announced Tuesday North Carolina can again host championship events. However, the league wrote the decision was a "reluctant one."
College sports do bring big money to the state. But have nowhere near the economic impact of boycotts by business.
The task of getting companies to move to or expand in our area falls to the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. Bob Morgan is their president and CEO. "We're scouring the United States, Europe, Asia," he explains, "looking for companies that are looking to either relocate or to invest and we're looking to land their jobs, their investment and their talent."
And if you were to write a modern history of their job it would have just two chapters titled 'During' and 'After' HB 2.
During the controversial law's time on the books, Morgan says, things really weren't all that bad. "We had more announced new jobs last year in 2016, the year of HB 2 than we did in 2015. So it did not shut us down and I think some had the perception that it did."
But that doesn’t mean things were great. "It created a whole lot of noise that for some companies the specifics of HB 2 were such that they decided not to put their jobs here. We all know that PayPal was one example. Costar was a company that we thought was going to come here but they ended up in Richmond, Virginia."
PayPal pulled some 400 high-paying jobs from Charlotte in their boycott. Costar's boycott added 730 more jobs to the total. And yes, Morgan says, the rumors the state was outright removed from consideration by other companies were true. "Well, we were certainly told this by site selection consultants that there were projects that took North Carolina off the list."
The 'During HB 2' chapter of business recruitment would likely end with this statement: The overall economic impact of the controversial law is unknown.
The 'After HB 2' chapter would likely begin with this. "We no longer have to talk about bathrooms, we can talk about North Carolina moving forward."
And Morgan says, the Chamber is talking as much as they can to businesses whether they boycotted the state or not. "Well, you just make sure that they've seen the news."
Yes, Morgan says they tell companies, HB 2 is no more. No, he says, the new law isn't perfect, but it's better than HB 2. And sports leagues like the ACC and NCAA's decisions to again hold championships in North Carolina does help.
Now, says Morgan, "All eyes now turn to the NBA and our opportunity to win back the All-Star Game in 2019."
Morgan says they've also reached out to the first business to pull expansion plans in Charlotte, in the hopes of getting them back. "There have been conversations with PayPal, yes. I personally have not made the phone call but there are others who were involved with them previously who have done so."
Morgan does not want to characterize how those calls have gone. PayPal did not respond to our request for more information on where they stand now.
The 'After HB 2' chapter of this story is still being written. It remains to be seen if the business boycotts do indeed go the way of sports leagues or if HB 2 has so damaged the state's reputation that it still needs time to heal.