Business Is Mixing With Politics, Nationally and Locally

Nov 29, 2019

Business and politics have always had a close relationship. But these days, more businesses are getting overtly political on the national stage, and in some cases, on a local level.

One of the highest-profile recent examples of an American business getting political is the National Basketball Association. As our colleagues in the American City Business Journal report in this week's issue, the NBA's business in China is valued at about $5 billion, which explains why, when one NBA coach tweeted support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, the league promptly apologized to the Chinese government.

Chik-fil-A and Ben & Jerry's are two other brands that have staked out political territory in recent years, with customers becoming both fans and opponents as a result.

Locally, business tends to be fairly quiet about politics, making exceptions when a particular law or issue becomes unavoidable. For example, Zippy's, Foodland and ABC Stores were among a number of Hawaii business whose CEO's became outspoken about their concerns over Bill 40 — when that bill evolved into a more sweeping ban on plastics than they were prepared for.

The result of their pushback was that city councilmembers were willing to sit down with them to hear their concerns, and then modify the bill.