The Economic Case for an LGBT-Friendly State Brand

Texas can avoid major competitive risks – and win investment, business, and talent – by sending a clear and consistent signal that the LGBTQ community is fully welcome here. This message matters to large and small businesses, to tourism and travel bookers, and to talented workers.

Treating LGBT people fairly and welcoming them warmly costs nothing and would change our state’s brand for the better, while creating quantifiable, long-term economic benefits. That’s what we call a smart business decision.

Tourism

47%

Of meeting and convention planners say they will “absolutely avoid” booking meetings in states that pass anti-LGBT legislation (Meetings & Conventions Magazine)

$100M

Cost to the North Carolina economy due to the relocation of the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans

$75M

Estimated economic impact of hosting a NCAA Final Four tournament. The NCAA is questioning future host cities on discrimination protections as part of selection criteria.

1 Billion

Number of negative social media posts about Indiana’s stance on LGBT rights in just 30 days in 2015

“Disastrous” 

Economic impacts reported by the Greensboro Coliseum stemming from performers boycotting North Carolina over LGBT issues

$600M

Five-year economic damage to hotel & meetings industry, as estimated by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, if anti-LGBT legislation had been signed into law

Corporate Investment

2,000+

New jobs lost due to canceled corporate investments in North Carolina over LGBT issues

1,000

new jobs lost at Angie’s List, after it halted a $40 million expansion in Indiana over LGBT issues

$1 billion

Facebook’s investment in a new data center in Fort Worth; executives cited the city’s LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination law as part of their decision

Talent

In the war for talent,

a welcoming stance toward LGBT people matters—not just for LGBT workers, but for recruiting all talented workers

of non-LGBT Millennials want to see workplace non-discrimination for their peers

Millennials will make up 75% of the U.S. workforce by 2030 (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

States with LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination protections attract large numbers of inventors, who in turn produce 30% more patents than their peers (Harvard Business Review)

Tourism

In 2015, the Texas tourism economy generated more than half a million jobs and more than $50 million in direct spending. Tourism touches every corner of Texas, from big corporations to small businesses. And we have seen in other states how the tourism industry is often the first to experience economic damage when the state is perceived as hostile to LGBT people.

Today, 47% of meeting and convention planners say they will “absolutely avoid” booking meetings in states that pass anti-LGBT legislation. Visit Indy found that Indiana lost at least 12 conventions and $60 million in revenue after the passage of anti-LGBT legislation in 2015. An economic development study estimated potential economic damage to Arizona of more than $140 million in lost meetings and conventions over three years, after the 2013 passage of a bill that was widely perceived to be hostile to LGBT people. The CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated a loss in state tax revenue of up to $65 million per year, as a result of perceptions that Louisiana is discriminatory.

We are also seeing canceled performances and sports events. The NBA moved the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans, and with it, an estimated $100 million in economic impact. The NCAA has begun questioning future host cities about discrimination. A Final Four tournament, like the one scheduled for San Antonio in 2018, can have a $75 million impact. Other sports organizations, like the PGA, have signaled their unwillingness to host future events in states that are hostile to the LGBT community. The Greensboro Coliseum Complex in North Carolina reported “disastrous” economic impacts from canceled performances.

We know that these impacts can be long-lasting and tarnish a state’s reputation for years to come. Seven months after Indiana made headlines for advancing an anti-LGBT initiative, Visit Indy asked meeting planners, “Has Indianapolis been in the news recently?” 58% of respondents’ answers included “RFRA” or “LGBT issues.”

Corporate Investment

Texas is a magnet for corporate relocations, expansions, and investments. But recent events have shown that many companies are unwilling to make investments in LGBT-unfriendly states.

North Carolina saw investments halted more than 2,000 new jobs, including 250 jobs at Deutsche Bank and 400 jobs at PayPal. Indianapolis-based Angie’s List froze a $40 million, 1,000-job expansion.

On the other hand, a welcoming stance can attract major investments. In 2015, Facebook announced a $1 billion investment in a new data center in Fort Worth; executives cited the city’s LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination law as part of their decision. In Georgia, a GE executive cited Governor Nathan Deal’s veto of a controversial bill as “definitely pertinent” in the company’s decision to locate its digital headquarters in Atlanta.

Talent

In the war for talent, a state brand that is welcoming toward LGBT people matters – not just for LGBT workers, but for recruiting all talented workers.

Indiana’s brand suffered from an estimated 2,500 negative news stories and 1 billion negative social media impressions in just 30 days. Oklahoma earned $50.9 in negative publicity over public debate over anti-LGBT measures.

“When you’re talking about attracting employers and skilled talent, these things matter,” said Brian Paschal, the Tulsa Regional Chamber’s Senior Vice President for Education and Workforce. Executives at companies like Celanese Corporation and Dow Chemical have also publicly noted concerns about the potential of LGBT issues “to harm our competitive advantage in the war for talent” and to force talent to “migrate” elsewhere.

Millennials – the largest group in the workforce – overwhelmingly support non-discrimination protections for LGBT people, and they vote with their feet. In 2013, the Detroit Regional Chamber found that 38% of its collegiate “brain drain” was moving to more LGBT-inclusive areas. And a 2016 Harvard Business Review study found that LGBT-friendly states attract large numbers of inventors who produce 30% more patents than their peers.