SC economic developers keeping an eye on HB2 fallout in NC

SC economic developers keeping an eye on HB2 fallout in NC

LANCASTER COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - Across the state line from Charlotte, economic development leaders in South Carolina are keeping a close eye on the fallout from North Carolina House Bill 2.

This week, Paypal announced it was canceling plans for a Charlotte project that would have added hundreds of jobs. Other companies have spoken out against the bill that some feel discriminates against those in the LGBT community.

"Even though we're South Carolina, we're tied inexorably to what happens up in Charlotte," said Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis.

In Lancaster County, Indian Land has long been attracting companies interested in the Queen City market. Willis said groups discussed HB2 during a meeting with other stakeholders at the Charlotte Regional Partnership.

He believes the fallout from North Carolina could be a double edged sword.

"If Charlotte's off the radar, we might not even get a look because again, we're part of the Charlotte regional partnership and you could just get painted with the same brush even though the state laws are different," Willis said.

However, Willis and other economic development groups like the South Carolina I-77 Alliance, recognize that because there is no law similar to House Bill 2 in South Carolina, it could benefit the Palmetto State.

"The Charlotte market is a very dynamic market and we see a lot of interest in it, and knowing that the legislation is not in place in South Carolina, gives it a different viewpoint," said I-77 Alliance CEO Rich Fletcher.

Fletcher says North Carolina's law isn't changing how they recruit or talk to companies, but he said they're fielding questions about any possible impact.

"This week I've been asked, so it's certainly been on the forefront of a lot of folks minds as they think about their investment decisions," Fletcher said.

Wednesday, South Carolina Senator Lee Bright introduced legislation similar to HB2, but most don't expect it to gain any traction. In the meantime, economic developers say they'll continue to keep close watch on what's happening in the Tar Heel state.

"Unlike some other states and some other cities that have gone out actively recruiting trying to get people to move out of Charlotte, we're not doing that, but if somebody inquires, of course we'd be happy to talk to them," Willis said.

Willis and Fletcher said so far no potential companies have made any decisions based on House Bill 2.

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