AZ Bill Affects Convention Business

Arizona’s controversial Senate Bill 1070 has given the state a bad image in the eyes of many individuals, but Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said not everyone in the state agrees with the anti-immigration law, according to The Arizona Republic. In a speech to two dozen event planners from across the country, Stanton spoke on his pro-diversity outlook in light of Phoenix’s dwindling number of convention guests.

Bookings at the Phoenix Convention Center are down 30 percent in the current fiscal year in comparison with 2009, and officials say the city is just now feeling the residual effects of the 2010 immigration law. Although some are not convinced of the correlation, some prospective convention groups have said they will not consider the meeting in the state because of Arizona’s strict immigration law.

“We will not only speak with our voices and our feet, we will speak with our economic clout,” declared the then-president of Alpha Phi Alpha, a national black fraternity, after cancelling their event in the wake of the law’s passage. “And we will not spend our money in Arizona and urge other organizations and people who believe in equality under the law to do the same.”

The Center for American Progress released a study in late 2010 which found $141 million in visitor spending was lost in the months following the law’s passage. Similarly, the city saw about 275,400 convention guests in 2009 and now projects about 184,300 visitors for 2013, which will result in $132 million less in direct spending to the city.

The National Minority Supplier Development Council and National Council of Teachers of English were among the large national organizations that cancelled their events. During the time that Arizona lost convention business, at least 14 others across the country also announced boycotts of the state.