NGLCC and LGBT-owned businesses celebrate and advocate for America’s $1.7 trillion LGBT economy with Congressional Briefing

| By Kaela Roeder

Justin Nelson, the Co-Founder and President of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), presented the strength of the $1.7 trillion LGBT economy to the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus on Tuesday. Certified LGBT Businesses Enterprises® also presented how their companies have benefitted from LGBT economic inclusion, and the challenges they still face.

The NGLCC and countless other advocates for the LGBT Business community have been impacted a lot in the previous months, notably the Supreme Court expanding Title IV to cover LGBT workplace protections. But, there is still much to be done to achieve full equality for the LGBT business community, and the minority business community as a whole. The passage of the Equality Act and LGBT inclusion in tax-payer funded public contracts are among the essential next steps.

“We are red-blooded, tax-paying americans. As such, We should have the same opportunity to bid on taxpayer-funded contracts,” said Nelson. 

Nelson also noted the intersectionality of the LGBT community, and how LGBT people of color are linked to the foundation of the LGBT rights movement, and must not be forgotten in the conversation.

“So many of our economic contributions are owed to Black and Brown members of the LGBT community,” Nelson said. “We stand with you in solidarity, and not just today. We will when the cameras go away, when the lights go off. We still have a fight to fight, and you have a partner with NGLCC.” 

The Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus currently boasts 173 members, and reviews bills proposed in the House related to LGBT equality and issues. Openly gay Congressman Chris Pappas of New Hampshire (D, NH-1) was a special guest at the event, and also serves as a co-chair of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus.

“We have to recognize, especially this pride month, the tremendous contributions of our LGBTQ workers and businesses that they make to our economy on a daily basis,” said Pappas.

The LGBT business community has seen great success in the private sector, through the expansion of Title IV, the 200 NGLCC Corporate Partners dedicated to curating diverse supply chains and the over 1400 Certified LGBT Business Enterprises®. NGLCC has also helped other certifying organizations develop programming, such as Disability: IN and the National Veteran-Owned Business Association. But, there is still much work to be done.

Even though 1.4 million LGBT-owned businesses in the United States have a combined economic impact of 1.7 trillion on the US economy and LGBT people are housed in every city, county and region across the United States, there is still a profuse amount of legislation holding the community back in the public sector.

Nelson explained how passing the Equality Act would help the LGBT community and business community exponentially. For example, as COVID-19 has disrupted our daily operations, many businesses have applied for loans. While many LGBT-onwed businesses were able to receive funding, others were still rejected credit simply for being LGBT.

NGLCC is also working toward getting LGBT-owned businesses included in federal government contracts. Now, 20 cities and counties have individually signed on to include LGBT owned businesses in public contracts, such as Los Angeles and Chicago. Even Republican states, like Tennessee and Kentucky, now include LGBT-ownd business on public contracts.

“LGBT businesses want what every other business wants: to grow, to succeed, to open multiple locations, make rent or mortgage payments, pay employees a living wage and offer robust benefits,” Nelson said.

Full and equal access to capital is the next step for the LGBT business community. LGBT businesses make up every section of the U.S. economy, from start-ups to multi-million dollar operations, and from PR firms to restaurants.

Gavriel Legynd, a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Visioneer IT and Pia Carusone, co-founder of Republic Restoratives presented how being a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise® helped their respective businesses in addition to the challenges both have faced in the business community.

Republic Restoratives, a liquor company in the DC area, has been producing hand sanitizer to the DC government to distribute to front-line workers to help the community and keep Republic restoratives in business. Read our blog post on their relief efforts.

Legynd also serves on NGLCC’s Trans Inclusion Task Force to further NGLCC’s reach to the Trans business community. He also noted how he and his businesses has been resiliant and strong because of his identity as a Transgender, Black man.

Both businesses noted how their intersecting identities have helped them grow their businesses, and organizations like NGLCC have helped them stand out and make connections in the business community.

Carusone, the owner of Republic Restoratives, noted how the liquor industry needs a disruption. The field is dominated by white, cisgender men, and she hopes to see more changes and diversity in the liquor business. Passing the Equality Act would help diversify this field, among providing countless other equality measures for LGBT people.

Learn more on how to certify your LGBT-owned business by visiting our website. For additional ways to help you, your business, and the LGBT community during this time, visit the NGLCC COVID-19 Resource Hub for the LGBT Business Community.