On Thursday, TurnOUT! North Carolina (NC) and the Small Business Majority continued our tour of North Carolina cities featuring Small Business leaders detailing the real economic harm they are experiencing as a result of HB2.
Despite reports that the board overseeing the Greensboro Coliseum Complex asked for the repeal of HB2 because the law had a “disastrous impact” on the facility and that the law has cost $200,000 in lost sales and wages for employees, elected officials in Raleigh are clearly not paying attention to the reality they created by rushing to pass HB2.
The speakers from Thursday’s press conference collectively called on leaders in Raleigh to fully repeal HB2 before it is too late for their region and the state.
Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan discussed the recent City Council vote that asked the legislature to Repeal HB2 because they saw what the law is doing to the people and the economy of Greensboro. Concert cancellations from Bruce Springsteen, the band Boston, as well as Cirque du Soleil have cost small businesses in the city lost revenue from tourism and concert attendees.
“Greensboro is known as tournament town and we are very concerned what the ACC and NCAA will do because of HB2. We’ve spoken to them and they are very seriously taking a look at whether or not this is a community, if this is a state, that they really want to hold their functions in,” Vaughan said.
“The City of Greensboro has worked very hard over the years to be welcoming and inclusive. About 18 months ago we passed three non-discrimination ordinances, long before HB2. Unfortunately because of the passage of HB2, many of those have been rendered useless,” Vaughan said.
“I have heard from many of our citizens who have been impacted by cancellation of these shows and other events. You know these are people who really depend on this income to make ends meet. I got a call from a woman who lost three nights of work at the Greensboro Coliseum and she said she’s not going to be able to pay her bills. So we know what the immediate impact has been,” said the mayor.
Kit Rodenbough has owned Design Archives for 15 years, a store in downtown Greensboro that relies on tourism for 60% of their business.
“My small business is in the heart of downtown, and I have always made an attempt to talk to my customers and to ask them if they are visiting or if they live here,” Rodenbough said. “Every single one of my recent visitors have made the statement to me that they are amazed at what North Carolina is doing with the passage of House Bill 2. I have felt the need to apologize time and time again for the actions of this group of lawmakers who passed this archaic bill and made it law.”
In calling for repeal of HB2, Rodenbough said, “The loss of dollars for our local businesses, including mine, and the pain this bill is causing, a bill that is misrepresented as something about bathrooms and not about what it really is, is going to affect local citizens and entrepreneurs for a long time.”
Sara Pilling, Director of HQ Greensboro, which hosted Thursday’s press conference, is a collaborative workspace that invites entrepreneurs, small business, and local business owners, to network and work together, to help their businesses grow.
“Since the passage of HB2, we have heard quite clearly from our community that this legislation is damaging to North Carolina’s reputation as a great place to start, build and expand businesses,” Pilling said. “We at HQ believe that it would be a disservice to our members and our community to abandon our core values by failing to express our stance against such regressive policies and ideologies. HB2 stands in stark contrast to HQ’s overarching philosophy of collaboration, unity, diversity and authenticity.
“Online petitions like Startups Against HB2, started by HQ Raleigh and other Triangle-based companies, have helped our voice be heard in the opposition of HB2. In less than two weeks, the website gathered 206 (two hundred and six) public statements from small business leaders and the petition gathered signatures from 170 (one hundred and seventy) entrepreneurs across North Carolina. The companies represented have created a total of 2,461 jobs in the state. This represents a concerted effort to show that start-ups, small and local businesses are invested in an economy and community that recognize the value of diversity and inclusiveness,” Pilling said.
“We ask that the Governor and General Assembly listen to the entrepreneurs, startups and local businesses who oppose HB2, and demand that you repeal this legislation that so egregiously misrepresents your constituents,” Pilling said.
This is why TurnOUT! NC, a coalition of the Human Rights Campaign, 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 are on the ground working with coalition partners across the Tar Heel State. There are daily opportunities to volunteer with weekly phone banks and weekend door-to-door 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.
Last week business leaders in Raleigh and Charlotte spoke out, on Thursday they were joined by Greensboro voices as part of our “Small Businesses for the Repeal of HB2” tour which is highlighting how HB2 is directly impacting small businesses, small business owners, their families and employees.
Kit Rodenbough has owned Design Archives in downtown Greensboro for 15 years.
Equality North Carolina's Matt Hirschy