HB2 cost NC a lot more than $3.76B

The AP says the “bathroom bill” cost North Carolina $3.76 billion. The real damage is likely much, much higher.

The AP yesterday released an analysis indicating that reaction to North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2 – the “bathroom bill” – cost the state a staggering $3.76 billion in lost business, projected over 12 years. That’s a remarkable hit to economy, but as I read the full details of how the AP arrived at that number, I can’t help wondering just how badly they underestimated the true damage that former governor “One Term” Pat McCrory and the rest of the jackals in the state GOP caused NC.

Have a look at the WaPo article linked above, then consider:

  • As the article notes, “The Job Development Investment Grant program can provide incentives for up to 12 years under state law — so the analyses are often done for that length of time.” This allowed reporters to peg the PayPal hit at $2.66B and the DeutscheBank tally at $543M.
  • However, that 12-year analysis wasn’t used for CoStar or VoxPro, so we might reasonably assume those numbers should be much higher if the metrics employed allowed us to get apples-to-apples numbers, right?
  • The Adidas estimate appears to have accounted for five years, not 12.
  • The damage to conventions, sports events, etc. looks like it’s probably fuzzier all around, but again, there’s no indication that the lost revenue is for 12 years.

In other words, the $3.76B number looks like an absolute accounting of what could be measured, and it includes 12 years for some companies, five for one more, and … one year for the rest? If so, and if we could derive equivalent year to year data for all companies, we might well expect a number that’s considerably above the $4B mark.

The other thing the AP analysis fails to account for is undocumented business flight resulting from HB2. In other words, PayPal and Adidas and others were on the record saying they’re pulling X number of jobs worth Y dollars as a direct result of the law. But what about companies that weren’t on the record? What about companies that may have been considering NC but dropped them off the list without making a public statement?

And what about the lingering stink following the Old North State brand around? It takes years to build a reputation and seconds to destroy it, and what McCrory and his henchmen did (actually, it’s more accurate to say that the lot of them are Art Pope’s henchmen, but we’ll save that for another day) was call the world’s attention to the steady, disturbing hillbillification of a state that was once the most advanced and forward-looking in the South. These days, thanks to the unholy marriage of the Pope/Randite wing and the social conservatives North Carolina has devolved into one of the least desirable destinations in the South.

So it isn’t just the plants and facilities and jobs that were announced that factor into the financial damage, it’s also the factories and jobs that won’t come next year or in five years or in ten years because the state made such a vile, reactionary spectacle of itself. Business leaders noticed – because they couldn’t possibly not have noticed – what NC has become. But as the state works to put the pieces of its fractured rep back together, it’s a certainty that many key decision-makers won’t notice. “It’s time to build a plant, boss? How about NC?” “Heck, no. That’s the bathroom bill state.” Even if it isn’t anymore, it could take a generation for the state to claw its brand back to where it was before One Term Pat took office.

How many dollars will that be?

Obviously we’ll probably never know. But the best guess is … a lot. And if you had a way of measuring the full extent of the damage, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number were double the AP’s reported $3.76B … or more.

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