HB2 Cuts Off Wake’s Engine
One of my jobs as Commissioner is to be a liaison to the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors. Today at that meeting, we heard information about HB2’s very real impact on Wake County. This year, we are continuing to sustain some growth in visitor numbers and current bookings. But the problem is in the next several years, particularly 2018. Forecasts for 2018 are grim, especially if the NCAA takes us off the Championship circuit.
Convention and visitor business is a years-long investment that pays off over time. What we have coming to Wake now was put in the pipeline 3-4 years ago. What the Legislature did with HB2 was greatly restrict that pipeline. We spend a significant percentage of every pitch now explaining that Wake does not support HB2 and is working to overturn it. It’s a challenge in every single pitch. Same with Economic Development.
Some will look at our visitor numbers in 2017 and say they prove that HB2 has had no impact. They are lying.
Think of it this way. Raleigh and Wake County are like a rocket. For years, we’ve been climbing. Numbers have been rising. Our national image has been growing. If you cut off the engine, a rocket keeps climbing for a bit, then it slowly turns and begins to fall.
HB2 cut off our engine. It’s time to turn it back on.