Local businesses eager to bid HB2 farewell

Local businesses around Raleigh are thrilled at the possibility of saying goodbye to HB2.

CBS North Carolina spoke to several business owners today about what it means for them. They say this is the first step in bringing back lost customers and patrons.

“When groups decide not to have their conferences here, not to have their events here, that impacts every small business, every large business,” said Pam Blondin, owner of DECO Raleigh.

Blondin’s business in the heart of downtown displays a rainbow flag and sticker to let customers know where they stand on HB2.

Greg Hatem, owner of Empire Eats Restaurants, had to make his position clear as well out of an effort to keep customers coming in the door.

“We had to convince other people to come to our restaurants and do events, we had to convince them that we didn’t discriminate against anyone,” said Hatem.

Business owners were poked and prodded by patrons to take a stance on the law, and it cost them one way or another.

“They would point at our signs and say, ‘Well we’re not going to eat there. We’re going to go somewhere else,’ Which is fine,” said Angela Maria Salamanca, owner of the restaurant Centro.

While most entrepreneurs are relieved that the General Assembly is moving towards repealing HB2, Salamanca won’t believe it until she sees it.

“We can’t trust them because they are sneaky, and I don’t know that they really have the best interest of our state in mind,” said Salamanca.

The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce is hoping a business terrain without HB2 will make the path to success easier.

“We want a community and we want laws and legislation that supports growth, diversity, and economic prosperity,” said Vernessa Roberts with the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.

Consumers are looking forward to the state recouping some its lost investments.

“Hopefully we’ll get some of the businesses and like attractions that left or didn’t want to come to North Carolina because of all that,” said Raleigh resident Matthew Coleridge.

Business owners say in some ways lines have been drawn that just can’t be erased. They’re not expecting everything to get back to normal immediately, but are eager to work on getting there.

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