As many of you know, each year the Channel Partners team selects a different city in which to hold our fall Evolution conference. To ensure that we and our sponsors have sufficient time to plan for each location, we typically book our sites two years in advance.
In 2015, we visited Charlotte, North Carolina, and felt that it was an excellent match for the Evolution event. We’ve since watched closely as Charlotte and North Carolina have been in the news. Specifically, this spring the state enacted a law aimed at nullifying progressive laws passed by the city of Charlotte to protect local and visiting members of the LGBT community. North Carolina’s HB2 prevents local governments from enacting laws to protect LGBT individuals and specifically seeks to marginalize the transgender community by restricting restroom access in public buildings.
Informa and Channel Partners value and celebrate diversity in all its forms within our own community – employees, sponsors and attendees – including but not limited to sexual preference and orientation. We find HB2 incompatible with our deeply held values. We feel strongly that it is the job of government to protect and defend small and often misunderstood groups within society, not to demonize them.
With that in mind, Channel Partners cannot move forward with plans to hold the 2017 Channel Partners Evolution event in Charlotte.
We are not alone. The state has lost investments from organizations including Deutsche Bank, PayPal, the NBA and NCAA, and Lionsgate; analysts say HB2 could cost North Carolina as much as $5 billion in federal funding and business spending. We had hoped that this pressure would cause the state to reconsider its actions. It has not. And, it is our judgment that neither the legislature nor governor are likely to reevaluate HB2, and that the federal suit brought against the state will not be resolved by Sept. 2017.
Channel Partners stands with the local government of Charlotte and its compassionate and appropriate law, which was nullified by the state. We look forward to a time when Charlotte can protect its visitors and citizens as it sees fit. When that happens, we hope to do business in Charlotte.
So where are we headed?
I’m pleased to announce that Channel Partners Evolution will be in Austin from Tuesday, Sept. 26-Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. I hope to see you there.