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National LGBT Chamber of Commerce advocates for small businesses

National LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Justin Nelson, president of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, speaks at the groups national convention in Tampa, Florida, in August 2019. Photo: National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

LGBTQ owned business have contributed more than $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy and created more than 33,000 jobs.

The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce reported these findings in 2017 in America’s LGBT Economy Report.

The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, which formed in 2002, promotes expanding economic and business opportunities for the LGBTQ community.

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They have a network of more than 50 local and state affiliate chambers, including ones in Long Beach and Los Angeles, that offer programming and networking to help LGBTQ small businesses succeed and grow.

In early 2004, NGLCC created a certification program, making the organization the exclusive, national third-party certifying body for LGBTQ-owned businesses.

In 2014, California became the first state in the nation requiring LGBTQ certified businesses be included in contracting and bidding with a statewide agency, the California Public Utilities Commission.

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Justin Nelson, president of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, visited Long Beach this week to present the Long Beach Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce with its Rising Chamber award. The Long Beach affiliate chamber won the recognition earlier this year at the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce national convention in Tampa.

In an interview with Q Voice News, Nelson, discussed five things you need to know about the chamber.

Here are some excerpts.

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Need for NGLCC

“We saw a need 17 years ago in policy matters impacting the public sectors and the private sectors,” Nelson says. “In Washington, D.C., members of Congress heard from groups such as the National Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturing, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“We didn’t have an economic identity. We had groups talking about LGBTQ social justice and equality issues, but we had never looked to the LGBTQ community on business issues. It was time people know what employment opportunities we offer, how many jobs we create, the taxes we pay,” Nelson says.

“Former Congressman Barney Frank once said, If you are not at the table, you are on the menu. We were tired of being on the menu.”

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Helping LGBTQ-owned businesses

“We help LGBTQ owned businesses from the national side and the local side of things,” Nelson says. “First and foremost, there is a network of like minded businesses out there. We used to think about the businesses down the road or in the next town. We live in a global economy. These are potential strategic partners depending on what your business does. In 2018, corporations spent $500 million with NGLCC certified businesses.

“We also offer education programs, access to capital, and strategies to help companies scale,” Nelson says. “We will help you get to the race, but you have to run the race.”

LGBTQ businesses fear discrimination

“Different parts of the country have different challenges. In 30 states, you can be denied credit because you are LGBTQ,” Nelson says. “A lot of people have felt it might be a hindrance to be open as an LGBTQ business. If my client knows that I’m LGBTQ, will they work with me? They fear some backlash.

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“Whether it’s real or not doesn’t matter because it inhibits the business from being the best they can be,” Nelson says. “It’s a personal decision on how they want to deal with it. We have conversations with business owners to show them what the other side of the door might look like.”

Access to capital

“We will have our first Gaingels event in February 2020 in New York,” Nelson says. “The Gaingels are an LGBTQ certified business and investment fund that supports LGBTQ owned, founded, or run businesses. They have a group of investors around the country.

“At the event,” Nelson says, “business owners will have a chance to meet and speak with some of these investors.”

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Accelerator program

“Also in 2020,” Nelson says, “we will be launching our NGLCC accelerator program to help businesses grow.”

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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