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The Daily Tar Heel

Report: HB2 has cost Wake County more than $700,000

Mingos’ Durham online archiving business, Shoeboxed, strives to be attractive to out-of-state recruits in his competitive tech field, but, as House Bill 2 continues to dominate national headlines, Mingos expects the same problem he had in 2012, when the state’s constitutional amendment pushed people away.

“I think it’s pretty clear from the reaction across the country —this has not upheld North Carolina’s image as a place where millennials and progressive, young, smart people want to work,” Mingos said.

The law, passed March 23, requires people to use bathrooms corresponding to their biological sex, which raises issues for LGBT individuals. Tuesday, Gov. Pat McCrory issued an executive order to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the state’s non-discrimination policy for its employees and to clarify that private businesses can create their own policies on bathroom preference. All individuals, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, must continue to use the bathroom that corresponds with their biological sex in public buildings.

In the past three weeks, CEOs of more than a hundred businesses across the country have signed a petition to repeal the law.

Chancellor Carol Folt sent a campuswide message Friday saying the University has experienced reconsideration from donors, hesitation from businesses and cancellation of conferences.

And on Tuesday, the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau released a report stating Wake County has lost more than $700,000 in economic investment due to the legislation, with millions more in jeopardy.

UNC journalism professor Ferrel Guillory said legislation like House Bill 2 can hinder economic growth for a reason that conflicts with McCrory’s and his constituents’ social conservatism.

“Tolerance has become an economic asset,” he said.

Terri Phoenix, the director of UNC’s LGBTQ Center, said the legislation will play a factor in LGBTQ individuals’ decisions when deciding where to apply to college and work.

Jeff Sackaroff, an associate director for University Career Services, said it’s too soon to know whether the legislation could influence companies’ decisions to come to the University to recruit.

Cisco, who was one of the top-five hiring employers for UNC graduates last year and has offices in Research Triangle Park, signed the petition to repeal the bill. However, UNC remains an important part of the company’s recruiting strategy, said spokesperson Robyn Blum.

Scott Albert, co-founder of Aurora Funds in RTP, said in an email when businesses are looking to expand or open a branch in North Carolina, the legislation might be a bigger factor.

“The decision-maker has dozens of criteria to rank and analyze,” he said. “So, something like HB2 makes it an easy quick disqualification — you go from six state choices to five quickly.”

To Mitch Kokai, analyst for the right-leaning John Locke Foundation, anecdotes of opposition to the bill don’t mean much. He said the bill will have no long-term impact on the state’s economy.

“In the short term, this is going to be a big story for as long as the folks that are interested in making it a big story continue to push it,” Kokai said.

Aaron Scarboro, who manages two accelerator programs for start-ups in Chapel Hill, said the law won’t change the region’s welcoming culture.

“The hearts and minds of people in this area haven’t changed towards the LGBTQ community just because a law was passed in the middle of the night.”


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