Gov. McCrory Drives Away Businesses With HB2
North Carolina is feeling the business backlash to Governor McCrory's discriminatory HB2. With cities and counties unable to set their own anti-discrimination policies for the LGBT community, businesses have expressed the potential to move out of NC.
The Republican-controlled General Assembly took action after Charlotte city leaders approved in February a broad anti-discrimination measure that allows transgender people to use the restroom aligned with their gender identity.
Tom Conley, the market's president, said there have been "no exhibitors that we know" to cancel showing product at the trade show, "but both designers and retailers have called."
Conley said market officials "have not commented on the bill and will not."
"We are just letting folks know the consequences of their actions."
There was no immediate comment from the McCrory administration or his re-election campaign on the High Point Market statement.
"As leaders and organizers of the High Point Market, we feel an obligation to inform the public and our government leaders in Raleigh of the significant economic damage that HB 2 is having on the High Point Market and on the North Carolina economy," market officials said in a statement.
"Based on the reaction in just the last few days, hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of our customers will not attend market this April."
Market officials said "several campaigns on social media (are) calling for a boycott."
The impact on the market, the world's largest trade show dedicated to residential home furnishings, could be fairly minimal given that there typically are 70,000 to 80,000 manufacturers and buyers attending from across the country and around the world.
The annual economic impact of the market is about $5.39 billion, according to a 2013 Duke University study that broadened the market's circle of influence to 22 North Carolina counties — stretching to Hickory and Lenoir — and eight Virginia counties, all within a 75-mile radius of High Point.
For Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, the main spillover effect is from hotel room bookings and restaurants. Richard Geiger, president of Visit Winston-Salem, has said the city averages about 5,600 hotel room nights from marketgoers.
"We would like to take this opportunity to clearly state that the High Point Market does not discriminate, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity," according to the statement.
"In fact, we embrace all of our attendees and believe that the diversity of the 75,000 people who attend market is one of our greatest assets and strengths."
Jerry Epperson, one of the nation's foremost experts on the market, said "I think the furniture industry and High Point are extremely blessed because they have always welcomed such a diverse universe of people.
"The market brings in people from 80-plus countries, I think, and all races and religions are there," said Epperson, managing partner with financial-services firm of Mann, Armistead and Epperson of Richmond, Va.