N.C. Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland said Thursday that he’ll be getting on the phone immediately once the House Bill 2 “reset” bill is signed, calling companies that have passed over North Carolina or hesitated to announce expansions because of the controversial law.
The N.C. House and Senate passed a compromise bill on Thursday that repeals HB2 but restricts cities from enacting new nondsicrimination ordinances until 2020.
Copeland was one of the speakers at a Charlotte Regional Partnership awards banquet Thursday. Gov. Roy Cooper had been scheduled to address the group, but instead remained in Raleigh to focus on the bill.
The event was ostensibly to honor the winners of the annual Jerry Awards handed out by the Charlotte Regional Partnership – Bissell Cos. and Rodgers Builders took the prize – but much of the attention from attendees at the Charlotte Convention Center was focused on the action in Raleigh. Ned Curran, longtime CEO of Bissell, was in Raleigh as well, helping mediate the compromise.
“Hopefully this will be in our rearview mirror,” Copeland said in an interview after his remarks. “I think there’s a whole plethora of businesses that we don’t know about.”
Copeland said he would contact companies that publicly canceled plans to expand in North Carolina, including PayPal, which had planned a 400-job expansion.
“We’re going to try. The next morning, we’re going to try to get them all,” said Copeland. “But it won’t be an instant transformation of image.”
Charlotte Regional Partnership CEO Ronnie Bryant said repealing HB2 was one of the most important economic development issues facing the state.
““This is great news for the State of North Carolina’s business recruitment efforts and will go a long way in restoring the perception of our Region as a competitive place to do business,” said Bryant, after the vote.
Copeland, sworn in this January, agreed.
“It’s the background noise in every economic development project,” Copeland said, echoing the concerns of business recruiters who fear the state was left off the list when companies considered relocations and expansions.
Speaking shortly before the vote, Copeland said he was confident the measure would pass. But he acknowledged the toll the year-long fight has taken.
“Democracy’s painful,” said Copeland.