Recognizing the business imperative to embrace diversity, the U.S. Small Business Administration  and National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce launched the first initiative of its kind focused on LGBT business owners.

LGBT Business Builder will bring together expertise and resources from staff at SBA district and regional offices, NGLCC’s 38 U.S.-based affiliate chambers and other resource partners. Businesses will learn how to leverage NGLCC’s LGBT-owned business certification and explore opportunities through SBA’s suite of services around government contracting, exporting and other SBA initiatives.

“Today’s announcement is about ensuring that entrepreneurs who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender have the support they need to excel. I’m here because we cannot separate the fight for civil rights from the fight for market rights and economic empowerment,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “This agreement is not about what we will do here in D.C., but what we will do together in all 50 states to help LGBT entrepreneurs grow their revenues and their payroll.”

“At its heart, America is a country that builds things — especially businesses,” said Justin Nelson, president and co-founder, NGLCC. “It is gratifying to know the leadership of the Small Business Administration sees the value of LGBT citizens who have wondered for too long how they can also gain a seat at the table. This program will ensure they will understand the value of becoming LGBT-certified businesses and all the SBA resources that are available to them. We commend Administrator Contreras-Sweet for putting an unprecedented focus on harnessing the potential of LGBT-owned businesses.”

The first of the day-long training sessions began on March 2 in San Francisco. Sessions have been scheduled for Atlanta, Los Angeles and Sacramento. Other cities will be announced in the near future. v


Left to right: Jill Young, JC Young Construction; Dawn Ackerman, OutSmart Office Solutions; Chance Mitchell, NGLCC; Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA; Justin Nelson, NGLCC; and Ray Parrish, Insight Consulting Partners