HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Engineer Keith Webster wanders around the floor of the ABB Customer World Convention. He's here for the week to learn and spend--but how much?
"That's a good question. It's a hotel basically. There were some convention fees, and some minor shopping," Webster said.
All told he figures about $2,500. There are 10,000 registered attendees. So if everyone spends what he does, it's a $25 million economic impact for one convention that comes here every other year.
It's just one of the dozens and dozens of local conventions that don't have the splash of a prominent sporting event but are the bread and butter of the convention business. And convention attendees follow the conventions.
So the convention and visitors bureau has been pushing back against the so-called "bathroom bill". The president issued a statement which reads in part "the GHCVB is currently working with the hospitality industry partners from across Texas to inform legislators that legislation regarding this issue is unnecessary. We in the hospitality industry prefer that the state do allow us to do what we do best: make Houston one of the most welcoming cities in the country." He says the city will stand to lose 100 million dollars of convention business immediately if it passes.
But Lt. Governor Dan Patrick dismisses claims like those as propaganda.
"The stories of any negative economic impact are just a false narrative put forth but the opposition."
After the senate passage the house passage looks more likely, leaving activists like Lou Weaver frustrated, but still fighting.
"It's a waiting game to see what else they will do in the house. This isn't the only bill. Twenty-five anti-LGBTQ bills have been filed this session. We have a lot of bills to watch."
So we will have to wait and see if it passes, if there's an economic impact, and if so how big and long it lasts.