Report Shows Non-Discrimination Laws are Common Trend in Cities with High Economic Development January 21, 2016

Today we released a report that bolsters the economic argument for comprehensive non-discrimination laws.

The analysis reveals that the vast majority of economic growth since RFRA passed in March 2015—in the form of investments and high-wage job creation—has been in municipalities with LGBT-inclusive human rights ordinances (HROs) barring discrimination in housing, employment and business services.

HRO Twitter

Our own initiative director, Peter Hanscom, suggests that a statewide non-discrimination law is critical to ensuring robust and sustainable economic growth for Indiana:

We can never take Indiana’s economic successes for granted. We saw last year that our state’s economic reputation is fragile, so we must take decisive action to ensure that no community is forced to answer the question of whether legal discrimination is allowed within their city limits.

Today’s report was developed from data collected by Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) since April 2015. It shows that 82.7% of new economic investment commitments and 58% of new high-wage jobs announced in Indiana went to localities with comprehensive HROs.

This directly challenges the notion that Indiana’s economic growth over the past year functions as proof that RFRA had no negative impact on businesses.

True: Indiana’s economy has continued to grow—but by and large in communities that protect Hoosiers from the type of discrimination that RFRA codified into law.

Chris Barbin, CEO of Appirio—one of Indiana Competes’ coalition members—testified to the impact RFRA had on business:

When Indiana found itself in the spotlight for passing RFRA last spring, we were incredibly disappointed by the measure – so much so that we put our growth plans on temporary hold. Thankfully, Indianapolis has strong protections to defend LGBT people from discrimination. We hope Hoosier lawmakers continue to take measures to highlight the state as a progressive center of business in order to attract the best talent and strongest investments.

This latest data showing economic trends toward investments in localities with comprehensive non-discrimination laws coupled with numerous polls that show public support for these laws is on the rise—with latest numbers estimating more than 60% of Hoosiers support LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination protections—points to a need for legislative action.

As Michael Huber, CEO of the Indy Chamber says:

It’s no surprise that companies are choosing to invest and locate in areas where leaders have taken steps to show inclusivity and ban discrimination of any kind. Today, we are in tough competition for jobs and talent and Indiana cannot afford to take any action that puts roadblocks in the way of investment.

For the benefit of Indiana’s communities and businesses, lawmakers should take necessary steps to add “sexual orientation, gender identity” to Indiana’s existing civil rights law. We will continue to work with lawmakers to achieve this goal in the coming months of the 2016 legislative session.