Abrams warns of more economic fallout after Music Midtown is nixed

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

A day after Music Midtown was scrapped, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper invited the festival to set up shop in his state. Stacey Abrams warned that Georgia could risk losing more investment and events to Democratic-led states because of GOP policies.

Abrams said in an interview that Gov. Brian Kemp’s support for firearms expansions and abortion limits is exacting an economic toll, underscored by the abrupt decision by organizers to cancel the music festival over concerns about the legal fallout of a permissive 2014 gun law.

“It puts our state in a terrible position when the governor refuses to do what’s right for the people and businesses of our state,” Abrams told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “His reckless agenda has been costing our state jobs and business from day one.”

She said Music Midtown’s cancellation is only the latest example that “hard-right extremist legislation has consequences.”

Major League Baseball yanked the All-Star game from Truist Park last year in protest of Georgia’s election rewrite and prominent film industry executives threatened to boycott the state in 2019 after the anti-abortion law passed.

Kemp has declined comment on the music festival. His economic message centers on his decision to reopen key sectors of Georgia’s economy early during the pandemic and his administration’s success in luring two auto plants that promise to create roughly 15,000 jobs.

Kemp spokesman Cody Hall said the dire predictions that the governor’s agenda would damage Georgia’s economy have been “wrong at every turn.”

Officials say the festival’s cancellation stemmed from litigation surrounding a 2014 law that allowed gunowners to carry their weapons on public land.

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

But Abrams said newly enacted Kemp-backed legislation that lets Georgians carry concealed handguns without first getting a state license has further tarnished the state’s business reputation.

“That’s why this law is so dangerous. It allows dangerous people to carry weapons. It limits the ability of law enforcement to support the small businesses and the workers in those communities,” she said.

“And it makes it difficult to meet legal obligations for a contractor to say that they can protect those who are performing in a concert, performing in a play or simply setting up an outdoor festival.”

The Democrat added that she knows there’s an ongoing effort to “shift the blame and to shirk responsibility altogether” for the downfall of a festival that was set to attract tens of thousands of attendees and millions of dollars in spending.

“But this is part of a continuum,” she said, “and the most recent action by the governor signaled to artists that they could not be safe here.”