PHOENIX — Arizona’s new immigration has led a minority suppliers group to move its convention from Phoenix to Florida, joining several out-of-town groups that have canceled meetings here as part of the backlash against the law.
The National Minority Suppliers Development Council Inc. (NMSDC), whose convention was expected to attract 7,000 people in Phoenix, said last Thursday that it was instead holding its meeting in Miami Beach on Oct. 24-27.
According to one estimate, metropolitan Phoenix risks losing as much as $90 million in hotel and convention business over the next five years because of the controversy.
Arizona is facing a backlash over its new law, with opponents pushing for a tourism boycott like the one that was used to punish the state 20 years ago over its refusal to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. with a holiday.
The law requires police, while enforcing another law, to question people’s immigration status if the officers suspect they’re in the country illegally.
Supporters say it will give the state a chance to make a dent into Arizona’s immigration woes, while opponents say it will lead to racial profiling.
The stakes for Phoenix are particularly high because the city operates the Phoenix Convention Center and owns the 1,000-room Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, which serves the convention center.
The minority suppliers group said the Arizona law “is inconsistent with the ideals and principles upon which the NMSDC operates, including valuing diversity and inclusion for all.”
The National Minority Suppliers Development Council matches more than 15,000 businesses owned by Asians, blacks, Hispanics and American Indians with member corporations that want to purchase goods and services.
Deputy City Manager David Krietor said it will be difficult for Phoenix to replace canceled events, because such meetings are usually booked years in advance. The convention center also is having difficulty booking future events because of the publicity about the law, he said.
The sales office phones “have stopped ringing,” he said.