Raleigh business owner fears HB2 is shutting out customers

Monday, April 18, 2016
Raleigh owners afraid HB2 is hurting business
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A sign opposing HB2 it posted on a business in downtown Raleigh

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A rainbow flag flies outside Deco Raleigh on West Hargett Street in downtown. A sign opposing HB2 hangs in the window.

"Inviting everyone in means good business," said owner Pam Blondin.

However, Blondin fears the new law is shutting out customers.

"We do a lot of visitor business. We do a lot of local business, and when those visitors stop showing up at our store, that's when we know we're going to feel the economic impact," she said.

A rainbow pride flag hangs outside a store in downtown Raleigh

Blondin is working with other business owners on a new ad to welcome everyone to downtown Raleigh.

Jessie Williams, owner of Edge of Urge, plans to display it at her downtown business.

"This is all I have. I put my heart and soul into it, and I've got a wonderful team that's been dedicated to the company for a lot of years. The thought of us all losing our livelihood is terrifying," said Williams.

A new report released Monday by the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau shows eight conventions and meetings with an economic impact of $3.2 million have now cancelled events in Raleigh.

Read the report from the Raleigh Visitors Bureau.

The Community Transportation Association of America is the latest convention to back out.

Raleigh tourism leaders expected the event to bring $1.7 million to the local economy.

"It's very significant. They were using five of our hotels, and it was a four day convention, so not only are the hotels being impacted, but restaurants, retail establishments, transportation companies. Everyone is going to feel the heat on this," said Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO, Denny Edwards.

He worries the recent cancellations are just the beginning.

Several more groups with a combined economic impact of $28.4 million are still unsure about bringing events to Wake County.

Raleigh businesses hope local events, like this weekend's Brewgaloo, will soften the blow.

The state's largest craft beer festival is expected to bring it is largest crowd yet to downtown.

"You're going to see probably 20,000 people on Saturday. The weather is supposed to be gorgeous. We've got 87 North Carolina breweries coming which is a huge economic impact for Wake County," said Jennifer Martin of Shop Local Raleigh. "We're local, and we plan to support our local businesses."

Read more news about HB2 here

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