Blackface controversy surrounding Virginia’s top officials may have a negative impact on the commonwealth’s economy.
While it may be too soon to tell if the negative attention will have lasting damage, it is having an impact now in the short term.
“It certainly isn’t a good thing to be the subject of a Saturday Night Live skit,” said Beth Doughty, Roanoke Regional Partnership Executive Director.
She says she’s had companies asking questions about the controversy.
“When businesses are looking for a location, they have a list about a mile long of things that they look at. And I wouldn’t say that this is something that they would overlook, but it’s one of many factors that go into a business decision,” said Doughty.
She says it’s been compared to the controversy in North Carolina about the bathroom bill, but it isn’t the same.
“The difference in North Carolina and the bathroom bill, that was policy, that was public policy. This is the actions of two individuals, which doesn’t impact policy,” Doughty said.
The recent news of Governor Northam in blackface has sparked a conversation for race relations.
“I think that’s a good thing to have that dialogue. But I don’t think it’s a comparative situation to state policy.”
Residents like Lisa Thomas think the controversy won’t be good for the commonwealth.
“The fact that this has raised so much of a huge fuss all across the country is a good thing ultimately because the conversation needs to be had and it needs to be marked out that it’s not ok,” said Thomas.
“I would think that it would impact businesses wanting to located here and people wanting to come here too.”
Others, Like Bob Schoner, disagree.
“Who of us hasn’t done something dumb in our youth that we would regret or think twice about doing as we get more experience,” said Schoner.
He says people can learn from this mistake.
“You can pretty much be guaranteed that there’s a cell phone everywhere so if you do dumb things it’s gonna come up,” Schoner said.
Overall, people say they are concerned about the optics of the situation, but hope it dies down and doesn’t leave a lasting effect.