NM Biz Weekly: Immigrant law is “unwelcome blow” to AZ tourism industry, plus Ozzie Guillen says, “Hell no, I won’t go!”

Apparently bigotry is bad for business.

This just in from the New Mexico Business Weekly:

The number of groups canceling meetings in Arizona grows daily, as do the boycotts and calls for boycotts in protest of a new immigration law signed by Gov. Jan Brewer…

For the state’s tourism industry, already limping along in the recession it’s an unwelcome blow. The Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association said the tally so far is 23 canceled meetings with an economic impact of $6 million to $10 million in lost business.

The story quotes Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, who has introduced a resolution in coordination with the local business community inviting groups to come to his city:

“One of the things we’re going to be doing in Santa Fe is [speaking] about the fact that Santa Fe is a sanctuary city and we pride ourselves on being so,” said Keith Toler, executive director of the Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Bureau. “That’s very different from what they do in Arizona.”

The Business Weekly reports that, due to Arizona’s rejection of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in the early ‘90s, the state lost 170 conventions and 300 million tourist dollars.

Arizona’s booming professional sports industry looks to be impacted too.

The Phoenix Suns NBA team wore “Los Suns” jerseys at Wednesday night’s playoff game in protest of their home state’s new law.

The World Boxing Council is looking to limit fights in Arizona.

Further, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) demanded that the law be repealed and warned players traveling to Phoenix to play Arizona Diamondbacks that they “could be adversely affected, even though their presence in the United States is legal.”

More than one out of four major league players are foreign born and most them are from Latin America.

A boycott of next year’s major league All Star Game in Phoenix is picking up steam.

Chicago White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen said he wouldn’t attend the mid-summer classic in Phoenix. Said Guillen, “I’m not going. I have to support my people, people I believe in. If those people were bad people, hell no I wouldn’t support them; but they’re good people.”

Baltimore shortstop Cesar Izturis of Venezuela spoke out, too:

“It’s a bad thing. Now they’re going to go after everybody, not just the people behind the wall. Now they’re going to come out on the street. What if you’re walking on the street with your family and kids? They’re going to go after you.”

Major League Baseball is a huge tourist draw for Arizona, far beyond the single franchise in Phoenix. The state is home to the Cactus League – the spring training base for half of the 30 major league teams.

Postscript: Speaking of spring training, most everyone knows that Jackie Robinson broke major league baseball’s color barrier in 1947.  But did you know that African-American ballplayers still had to endure racial segregation during spring training in Florida as late as 1965?  Hall of Famers like Bob Gibson, Henry Aaron, Ernie Banks, Frank Robinson, Roberto Clemente (and Minnie Minoso who should be in the HOF), proud champions treated like less than citizens — make that less than human beings.  St. Louis Cardinals’ great Bill White, who later became President of the National League, couldn’t stay in the same hotel or eat at the same dining room with Stan Musial.

This was such a shameful chapter in our history. We must never forget.

A Sterling Example

I had some harsh words last week for some members of the local business community who’ve been resisting any and all efforts to regulate the oil and gas industry in the name of climate control.

Then I read this, taken from a story in the Dec. 4 edition of the New Mexico Business Weekly (subscription required):

Businesses Unite on Behalf of Climate Change Legislation

A broad alliance of business associations representing about 1,400 local firms is pushing New Mexico’s senators to include tougher regulations in emerging climate change legislation.

The coalition will hand deliver a letter this month to New Mexico’s two Democratic U.S. senators, Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, urging them to seek faster emissions reductions and more industry responsibility for the cost of regulations than what is outlined in the current bill under debate in the Senate.

Most coalition participants represent businesses directly linked to clean energy development, such as the New Mexico Solar Energy Association. But the group also includes associations with a variety of businesses that embrace carbon reduction and see economic opportunities in a green economy, such as the Santa Fe Alliance, which represents 500 locally owned businesses and nonprofits, and the 620-member Santa Fe Area Home Builders Assn.

Mark Giorgetti of AmEnergy LLC, which has a leading role in the emerging coalition, said participants want to “embolden” New Mexico’s senators to act aggressively in the climate change debate.

This hearty endorsement proves that being in business in New Mexico doesn’t have to equal being hostile to tougher regulations regarding climate control.

Kudos to this diverse new alliance of businesses – and here’s hoping the group has some sway with New Mexico’s senators!