Abortion ban’s impact on business in Alabama remains unclear

In 2018, businesses committed more than $4 billion to the Rocket City. WAAY 31 wanted to look into if the law banning abortions would change their mind of doing business here.

Posted: May 15, 2019 6:17 PM
Updated: May 16, 2019 7:39 AM

Alabama's controversial abortion ban has been signed by Governor Kay Ivey, and people across the nation are calling to boycott the state. We've already seen Hollywood refusing to do business in Georgia because of their recent abortion bill. 

It's no secret Huntsville is exploding in growth. In 2018 alone, businesses committed more than $4 billion to the Rocket City. WAAY 31 wanted to look into if the law banning abortions would change their mind of doing business here. 

More than 6,000 new jobs are expected to come to North Alabama in the coming years thanks to likes of some big-name companies making the move to North Alabama.

We reached out to local businesses to find out if they would make a change now that the bill is signed. They either had no comment, or did not want to be associated with the bill. We've reached out Google and Facebook about the same thing as they continue to build their local data centers. WAAY 31 has not heard back from either of them. 

Yet, the biggest investment, the Mazda-Toyota Plant, had a representative that addressed the topic. Victor Vanov with Toyota tells WAAY 31 they do not have a comment on the bill itself, but the bill has no impact on opening, construction or hiring of the plant in Huntsville. 

WAAY 31 reached out to the Huntsville chamber, they did not have a statement to make. Mayor Tommy Battle's office never responded to whether or not they were concerned about future growth. 

The social media hashtag BoycottAlabama is being used by many people on social media right now in the wake of Governor Ivey signing a bill making it illegal to perform an abortion in the state.

Alabama has a lot at stake if people around the country actually do boycott the state. If you look at just travel and tourism:

Alabama as a whole brought in $14.3 billion in 2017.

Madison County brought in $1.3 billion in 2017.

Bethany Martin helps run a shop inside Lowe Mill. Over the last year and a half she's seen an increase in the number of out of towners buying things, "It has slowly been increasing. Its not where it needs to be yet, but we have finally gotten off the ground with tourism," Martin.

Martin is afraid posts on social media using #BoycottAlabama will stop that growth, "I feel like that's absolutely going to have a monetary impact on our business," said Martin.

The Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau told WAAY 31 over three million people visited the area in 2017, "we have people coming in from all over the world. China is a big market for us, india. We have tour groups coming in all the time," said Marketing Manager Kristen Pepper.

The convention and visitors bureau id there are a lot of business travelers as well because of Redstone Arsenal.

Mike Burleson is the General Manager at 1892 East Restaurant and Tavern. Depending on the time of year they get a lot of their business from people visiting the area, "Definitely probably 20-30 percent we see from business travelers coming through the area. Little bit of tourism being here close to Monte Sano State Park," said Burleson.

Burleson is aware of the hashtag floating around on social media and understands it might play a role in people coming here, "they're going to take that into account, so it's important that we in huntsville at least do everything we can to show the world that we're still a great destination," said Burleson.

Businesses in the area, like the ones in Lowe Mill aren't the only ones who could feel the brunt of a boycott. The convention and visitors bureau told WAAY 31 people in the area saved roughly $860 dollars in taxes because of people traveling here and spending money on hotels, food, and tourism.

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