CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – The Orange County Visitor’s Bureau says the controversy over House Bill Two is costing the community big with estimates of more than $1 million lost.
“I think it’s a bad idea,” said Angelo Marrone, owner of Italian Pizzeria, although he said he doesn’t have any problems related to the bill so far.
While he’s seen the impact the bill has had on the county, he hopes money continues to flow for his restaurant.
“We’re still doing the same things we used to do before for right now,” he said. “As far as economic things, I think I’ll be OK.”
The law requires people to use the bathrooms in government buildings, schools and universities matching their gender at birth, which has been of particular concern for those who are transgender.
“Orange County is not for the bill,” said Marlene Barbera, the Director of Sales with Orange County’s Visitors Bureau. “We really want everyone to know that we’ve always been a county that fights for social justice and that all are welcome here.”
The county was expecting to see more than $450,000 from a conference at UNC, until the program recently backed out.
“I don’t think anyone in the state of North Carolina had any idea of the impact of what it could do,” Barbera said. “Again, I think that we have yet to see the impact, because there could have been lots of conferences and meetings that would come in to the state, that now North Carolina is not even being considered.”
In hopes to attract more people to the area, Orange County is gearing more marketing resources to the LGBTQ community.
They plan to spend thousands of dollars reaching out in brochures, on social media and on the town’s website.