LGBT History Month: The History of #LGBTBiz

By Sarah Jester

Every October, LGBT History Month honors queer history and those who have worked to make the LGBTQ+ rights movement a success. We’re proud to continue working alongside many of these LGBTQ+ pioneers in our mission to expand economic opportunities and advancements for LGBTQ people across the globe. In the spirit of LGBT history, we’re reminiscing on the last 20 years of NGLCC and how far the #LGBTBiz community has come since 2002! 


2002: The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce – now known as the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce – is established when Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell realize that no one has considered the economic equality of LGBTQ2+ people or the impact economics can have on the equality movement. The two co-founders seek to showcase LGBTQ2+ people are business owners, employers, taxpayers, providers of healthcare – that they are a vibrant, essential part of the small business engine that makes the U.S. economy run and therefore, deserve a place at the business roundtable. 

2003: The first inaugural NGLCC Conference is held in Washington, D.C., with over 80 LGBTQ2+ and allied business leaders in attendance. The Conference has since grown to serve over 1,000 attendees and includes guests from around the world. The Canadian LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) is launched.

2004: NGLCC creates a best-in-class diversity certification program, making the organization the exclusive national third-party certifying body for LGBTQ2+-owned businesses. The Certified LGBTQ2+ Business Enterprise® (Certified LGBTQ2+BE®) certification is now in use by over 1/3 of Fortune 500 and federal, state, and local government supply chains nationwide.

2007: nglccNY, the New York Metro regional office and business hub of NGLCC, is launched. NGLCC becomes the first-ever LGBTQ organization ever to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange

2008: NGLCC exceeds 250 Certified LGBTQ2+BE® suppliers in its first four (4) years of certifying, achieving over 500% growth in the LGBTQ2+ Business Enterprise supplier base.

2011: NGLCC launched the National Business Inclusion Consortium (NBIC), forming a working group of executive leaders from diverse agencies including the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC); the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC); the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC); the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce (USPAACC); Disability:IN (formerly USBLN); and WEConnect International. The NBIC now also includes the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), the National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA), and Women Impacting Public Policy (WiPP). 

2012: The HRC Corporate Equality Index moves to include LGBTQ2+ Supplier Diversity.

2013: NGLCC Global launches. NGLCC Global™, an international division of the NGLCC, promotes the growth of small businesses and provides the quickest and most effective path to broad-based economic advancement and empowerment of the global LGBTQ2+ community. Through a variety of resources, NGLCC Global connects LGBTQ2+-owned and -allied companies, multinational corporations, and international affiliate chamber leaders and members.

2014: California’s AB1678 is passed. This is a first-in-the-nation public mandate requiring the intentional inclusion of Certified LGBTQ2+ Business Enterprise® companies in contracting with CA Public Utilities. NGLCC is also awarded the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Grant to establish LGBT+ chambers of commerce in Latin America, the Caribbean, South Africa, and India over a multi-year term. 

2015: The LGBTQ2+ Business Builder forms partnership with the Small Business Administration and brings LGBTQ2+ economic opportunity training to 20+ cities across America. Massachusetts becomes the first state to include Certified LGBTQ2+BE® suppliers in contracting opportunities. 

2016: HRC Corporate Equality Index is changed to make LGBTQ2+ Supplier Diversity a standalone scored criteria. A Memorandum of Understanding is signed, expanding access to over $13.8 billion in federal contracts for Certified LGBTBE® suppliers with USDA (2016); proceeded by similar MOUs with HUD (2015), Transportation (2014), Labor (2013), SBA (2012), Commerce (2011). An NGLCC Certified LGBTQ2+BE® becomes the first-ever LGBTQ2+ winner of the SBA’s Small Business of the Year. Pennsylvania becomes the third state to recognize NGLCC’s Certified LGBTQ2+BE® certification for statewide contracting. NGLCC Co-Founders Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell are recognized by Canadian LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce (CAGLCC) for Global Leadership and pioneering efforts to build global recognition for LGBT+ businesses with the CAGLCC’s first-ever Chairperson’s Award

2017: NGLCC celebrates 15 years of LGBTQ2+ business success with 52 Affiliate Chambers, 964 Certified LGBTQ2+BE® Business partners and 157 Corporate Partnerships. NGLCC releases the groundbreaking America’s LGBTQ2+ Economy Report, the first-ever exploration of the economic impact of LGBTQ2+-owned businesses on the U.S. economy. Over $1.7 TRILLION dollars is added to the GDP by LGBTQ2+-owned businesses, and NGLCC Certified LGBTQ2+BE® suppliers alone have created over 33,000 jobs. The Billion Dollar Roundtable (BDR) votes to expand the criteria in evaluating a corporation’s billion dollar supply chain spend on diverse-owned businesses to include: Certified LGBT Business Enterprise® (Certified LGBTBE®) companies, Disability-Owned Business Enterprises (DOBEs®), Service-Disabled Veteran Disability-Owned Business Enterprises (SDV-DOBETM), and Veteran-Disability Owned Business Enterprises (V-DOBEsTM). 

2018: NGLCC certifies its 1,000th Certified LGBTQ2+ Business Enterprise®. NGLCC and NMSDC make history with the first-ever LGBTQ2+ reception held at the National Minority Supplier Development Council conference. NGLCC wins Certified LGBTQ2+BE® inclusion in Baltimore, MD; Jersey City, NJ; and Hoboken, NJ, while also advancing statewide bills in New York and New Jersey. NGLCC formally establishes the Transgender & Gender Expansive (TGX) Initiative, which witnesses 400% growth in the first two (2) months of operation

2019: NGLCC passes Certified LGBTBE® inclusion in 13 additional cities, counties, and government agencies. NGLCC formally establishes the Communities of Color Initiative (CoCi).

2020: NGLCC launches 18th global affiliate LGBT chamber of commerce in Japan. In response to COVID-19, NGLCC immediately pivots to virtual programming ensuring financial literacy and small business training, including the LGBT Sip & PItch program; Webinar Wednesdays; virtual matchmakers, and more. 

2021: Grubhub teams up with NGLCC to support LGBTQ+-owned restaurants during Pride Month 2021. Boston’s Mayor moves to include LGBT businesses. Houston is the first in Texas to include LGBT businesses.

2022: GSA & NGLCC sign a historic MOU to support LGBTQ-owned businesses. NGLCC, Grubhub, and Playbill award $100K to NYC bars & restaurants at “Pride in Times Square.” New Jersey becomes the next state to include LGBTQ-owned businesses in state economic opportunities. NGLCC launches a new program to grow LGBT-owned business skillsets in collaboration with NGLCC Founding Partner Wells Fargo.


View NGLCC’s 2021 celebration of LGBT History Month: Writing the Rainbow: NGLCC Celebrates LGBTQ History Month & National Book Month!

Learn more about NGLCC at


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