RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Restrained relief from the business community as the economic impact of the House Bill 2 repeal starts to take shape.
However, it remains to be seen whether or not the sports tournaments, conventions and other events lost to the law will return.
“The economic benefit of this permeates throughout the community,” said Barry Mitsch, board chairman of the Cary Chamber of Commerce.
As hundreds of people descend on Cary’s USA Baseball Complex for a national high school invitational, town leaders can’t help but think of what they missed out on because of HB2.
“It’s not only the economic loss, it’s the loss of the prestige, of the community identity we have as a sports town,” said Mitsch.
Mitsch says the NCAA took four championships away from the town but it hasn’t stopped them from trying to get more.
“The Town of Cary has submitted a number of bids for not only soccer, but for cross country, lacrosse, for baseball, so there’s a lot of things at stake,” said Mitsch.
Now it’s a waiting game to see how the NCAA will respond to the repeal. In the meantime, Mitsch isn’t the only one holding his breath.
“It just sends the wrong signal throughout the country about who we are and people just don’t want to come here as much,” said Greg Hatem, owner of Empire Eats Restaurants.
Hatem says his restaurants in downtown Raleigh thrive off business from conventions and events, which have taken a dip the past year. He says there’s a long road ahead for folks trying to recoup losses.
“It’s not going to flip the switch open. We’re still going to be suffering from the damage for years to come. And I think we need to fully repeal this before we can even get close to normal,” said Hatem.
According to an Associated Press analysis, HB2 was expected to cost the state nearly $4 billion in lost business in the next dozen years.
Other groups interested in the economic impact released statements Thursday as well.
“We appreciate the efforts of the North Carolina General Assembly and Governor Cooper to find a solution today in passing HB 142. We are cautiously optimistic that this will ease the concerns of our clients/groups that have expressed concern over holding events in Raleigh and Wake County,” said Dennis Edwards, President and CEO of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“As for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau and Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, we will continue our ongoing efforts to sell and market Raleigh as the thriving Southern capital city that it is, one shaped by the passionate minds of its inclusive and welcoming residents,” said Scott Dupree, Executive Director of Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.