Indiana businesses concerned over economic impact of religious freedom bill

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 25, 2015) - The fallout from Indiana’s controversial religious freedom bill continued Wednesday with concern among many businesses about the economic impact the bill may have when it’s signed into law.

Not only are some of the state’s leading companies coming out in opposition of the religious freedom bill, some are threatening to pull their operation from Indiana all together.

Many business owners drafted letters of opposition to Governor Mike Pence.

“Honored Governor Pence, I’m writing today to request that you veto the religious freedom restoration act,” read Justin Gifford, attorney for EnviroForensics in Indianapolis.

“I say this as a lifelong Christian and a strong supporter of freedom,” read John McDonald, CEO of CloudOne a tech company in Indianapolis.

“What it really is doing is in my opinion, is it’s taking away certain freedoms from certain people in order to protect the freedoms of some others,” said McDonald.

Two Indy based technology companies, CloudOne and EnviroForensics, are among a growing coalition of companies big and small fighting Indiana’s controversial religious freedom restoration act. Both companies are concerned over the bill impacting recruitment.

“My main concern is in regard to recruiting talent and retaining talent. It’s already a very, very difficult marketplace to find high technology talent,” said McDonald.

“If Indiana’s actually open for business, it needs to be open for business for everybody,” said Gifford.

These two tech firms are just the tip of the iceberg. Indiana economic engines like Eli Lilly Co., Cummins, and SalesForce have all expressed concern over what may come with the state’s religious freedom act.

“We love Indianapolis, I love Indianapolis, but boy, that doesn’t help us sell the city,” said Gifford.

Already the largest convention in the state, GenCon, is considering pulling the plug on future events and taking the $50 million that comes with it, Even though GenCon is contracted to have events in Indy through 2020.

Even the Christian, Disciples of Christ Church, have told the Governor, they’re considering pulling out of their 2017 convention that generates almost $6 million and draws around 8,000 people. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard spoke out over fear of continued repercussions and released this statement Wednesday:

"I don't believe this legislation truly represents our state or our capital city. Indianapolis strives to be a welcoming place that attracts businesses, conventions, visitors and residents. We are a diverse city, and I want everyone who visits and lives in Indy to feel comfortable here. RFRA sends the wrong signal.”

Social Media was also on fire with reaction to the bill. Actor and gay rights activist, George Takei posted to his Facebook page, where he has more than 8 million fans - “Indiana will be marked as a state where certain people are not welcome.”

The NCAA is looking into potential affects the bill may have on future hosting of the Final Four. They released this statement late Tuesday night:

“We are examining the details of this bill, however, the NCAA national office is committed to an inclusive environment where all individuals enjoy equal access to events.”

The Governor announced he will sign the bill into law on Thursday.

 

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