Bank Watch

Bank of America CEO says NC still missing out on jobs because of HB2

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan told a Charlotte audience Wednesday that House Bill 2 continues to hurt North Carolina’s economy, as companies and organizations choose other states to locate jobs and conventions.

“These are people that talk to me one-to-one,” the chief executive of the Charlotte-based bank said at a World Affairs Council of Charlotte luncheon. “I know employers who have choices to make..”

His comments mirror those he gave the Observer in an interview in December, when he said North Carolina could be generating even more business than it is, if not for the controversial law restricting protections for LGBT people.

Moynihan noted the bill hasn’t chilled all economic activity in the state. But he said the law acts as a constraint on North Carolina’s economy by costing it some opportunities.

“The question (is) could it be higher, faster, better? That’s the debate,” Moynihan said at the event, whose attendees included retired Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and other local leaders.

Bank of America and other major corporations have voiced their opposition since the 2016 passage of HB2, which came in response to a Charlotte ordinance that extended LGBT protections.

Artists such as Bruce Springsteen have boycotted North Carolina over the bill, and companies including PayPal and CoStar Group canceled planned expansions in Charlotte. In more recent fallout, the N.C. Sports Association said in a letter this month the NCAA could block its college sports championships from being held in North Carolina through 2022 if HB2 is not repealed.

Last week, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper offered a repeal compromise, after a separate repeal attempt fell apart in December. The future is uncertain for Cooper’s proposal, which has drawn fire from HB2 supporters and critics.

The NCAA’s move and other big losses tend to get a lot of attention, Moynihan said. But North Carolina might not always be aware of what it’s missing out on because of the bill, he said.

“That’s the question,” Moynihan said. “What’s going on that you don’t know about? What convention decided to take you off the list? What location for a distribution facility took you off the list?”

Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts