INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There are concerns after some leaders across the country tried to use the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to lure away Indiana businesses.
Illinois is just one of the states making its case. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday afternoon to a crowd of reporters that he was talking to one company about the opportunity to expand or relocate to the Windy City.
The mayor did not say which company but he’s not the only one vying for the attention of top companies in Indiana.
“I believe that Indiana’s law is not Chicago’s values and when I saw what happened, I immediately sent letters to companies across Indiana,” said Emanuel. “I talked about the strengths that are here in the city of Chicago.”
A spokesperson for Mayor Emanuel tells 24-Hour News 8 by email that more than a dozen letters were sent out last week.
The mayor’s office did not release names of the companies on the mailing list. Mayor Emanuel touts his city’s work force and diversity in the one page letter.
“Those companies that realize that diversity is a strength not something that you should run away from, but something you can embrace. That Chicago is a place you may want to think about relocating (to),” said Mayor Emanuel.
The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce points out the efforts come just four days after Governor Mike Pence signed RFRA into law.
“Our competitor cities are already running all kinds of creative press and things like that to try to poach our companies,” said Michael Huber, CEO of Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. “It’s really shameful because this is something we did not support.”
Like Chicago, the Governor of Virginia is hoping that business leaders will look further east for economic development.
In an open letter that will be sent out this week, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said:
“If you are a company that values a person’s contribution to the team, to society and to our economy above all else, I want you to know that Virginia shares your values.”
The Indy Chamber remains optimistic about the outcome.
“I’m confidant though we’ve had such an outpouring of support from our members and other companies that if we could put a positive message together I’m still optimistic we could reel this back in as a business community,” said Huber
24-Hour News 8 reached out to Governor Pence’s office and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation for a comment but we have not heard back.