Yesterday, TurnOUT! North Carolina (NC) and the Small Business Majority kicked off a four city tour of North Carolina featuring Small Business leaders detailing the real economic harm they are experiencing as a result of HB2. Starting yesterday in Raleigh, then traveling to Charlotte the next day and then to Greenville and Greensboro next week, our “Small Businesses for the Repeal of HB2” tour will highlight how HB2 is directly impacting small businesses, small business owners, their families and employees.
Recent statements by Lt. Governor Dan Forest scoff at the impact that HB2 is having on the state’s economy implying that the bill has not done real harm to business in the state. Despite reports from the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce that HB2 has already cost the region over $3.2 million in lost revenues, elected officials in Raleigh are clearly not paying attention to the reality they created by rushing to pass HB2.
The speakers from yesterday's press conference collectively called on leaders in Raleigh to fully repeal HB2 before it is too late for the state.
Chris Heavener and Sam Ratto, co-founders of Videri Chocolate Factory -- which relies on convention and tourism business to thrive, hosted yesterday's press conference. They are seeing a decrease in visitors and have had to cancel events as a result of HB2.
Debra Bost is a resident of Hillsborough, but her family owns Southland Parking in Charlotte. The company relies on daily and nightly parking by tourists and visitors who come to Charlotte for conventions, sporting events and concerts. With more and more events being canceled in Charlotte, they are losing thousands of dollars of income.
Victor Lytvinenko and his wife Sara own Raleigh Denim Workshop, whose handmade, locally-sourced jeans are known around the globe and are sold in boutiques from Los Angeles to New York, London and Tokyo. When Victor gets calls from customers, he ends up spending time talking about HB2 instead of being able to do business.
“I love this state so much. So much that we named our company after our city, so much that we use most of our raw materials from North Carolina, and now that association is working against us,” he said. “I’ve been emailing Governor McCrory, I’ve been emailing the legislature, begging for the sake of our friends, our family, our business, we need to repeal HB2 now, so that we can get back to focusing on our business.”
Zack T. Medford, Senior Partner of Isaac Hunter's Hospitality, spoke out about their group of restaurants in Raleigh.
“When we first opened the doors of our business seven years ago, we found success thanks to the support of our community...Raleigh’s reputation as a welcoming and inclusive city brought an influx of new residents that helped make our business a success. With those residents came national conferences, major events, and most importantly, dollars into our economy,” he said. “Mr. McCrory, I’ve got to tell you, this law has me pretty upset. Discrimination is bad for business. As a small business owner, I’m feeling the direct effects...When HB2 writes discrimination into law, it is not only putting our economy at risk, but it is targeting people who are customers and employees all across the state. It’s time to repeal HB2.”
This is why TurnOUT! NC, which is a coalition of HRC, Equality North Carolina, the ACLU and the Campaign for Southern Equality, is working to mobilize thousands of North Carolinians for the full repeal of HB2. TurnOUT! NC has field organizers based in Asheville, Charlotte and the Triangle area. Additionally, HRC staff is on the ground working with coalition partners across the Tar Heel State. There are daily opportunities to volunteer with weekly phone banks and weekend canvassing opportunities.
If you live in North Carolina and want to join the efforts to repeal HB2, RSVP for upcoming phonebanks and volunteer opportunities. For more information about our work in North Carolina, contact HRC Associate Regional Field Director Ryan Rowe at Ryan.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos below taken in Raleigh