Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce President Bill Russell issued the following e-mail to members Thursday concerning local business discussions and reactions to HB2:
“Lake Norman Chamber Member:
“On Monday, at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Lake Norman Chamber Board of Directors, our leadership discussed the controversial issue House Bill 2 (HB2). Regardless of partisanship, many people agree that the unintended consequences of this legislation have had a dramatic economic impact as well as created a negative national perception of North Carolina.
“At a recent meeting of Corporate CEOs held by your Chamber and Lake Norman Economic Development Corporation, we heard first hand from our corporate executives and human resource personnel who shared their concerns on the impact it was having on their company operations and image. We have also had discussions with members of our hospitality industry who have felt the lost revenue from cancelled meetings and events.
“Our economic developers also point out that the consequences of HB2 have resulted in lost jobs and corporate relocations. While some of these announcements have been reported in the media, there are other instances of companies removing North Carolina from a short list of possible expansions or relocations.
“In response to Gov. Cooper’s call for a compromise repeal of House Bill 2, House Bill 186 – a bipartisan bill to repeal HB2 – was filed last week by Rep. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson) in the North Carolina House of Representatives. Local Representative John Bradford was a sponsor of the legislation. In short, House Bill 186 would repeal HB2 while prohibiting local governments from regulating private restroom facilities.
“After careful deliberation, our Chamber issued the following response: “The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce is encouraged by the early bipartisan effort towards the proposed House Bill 186. We commend those leaders who are working to address this issue and hope for continued dialogue and collaboration to reach a solution.”
“The proposed bill has been met with criticism on both sides of the political aisle, with conservative groups stating that the bill does not go far enough to protect citizens in public restrooms and liberal groups stating that it still leaves the door open for discrimination against transgender individuals in private bathrooms.
“This past Tuesday, I participated in a Press Conference in Raleigh organized by Representatives Bradford and Dulin. Business leaders representing business and commerce, the hospitality industry, sports marketing, and real estate were all represented. I believe Bob Morgan of the Charlotte Chamber and myself were the only two local Chambers present at the Press Conference though many have signed on with their support of the Bill or encouragement of continued dialogue on the subject.
“This is a critical issue facing our state. The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, while currently not committed to endorsing or supporting HB 186, believes it is a foundation for discussion.
“The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce will continue to provide our elected leadership with the feedback and encouragement needed and ensures North Carolina remains a great place to live, work, and conduct business.”