July 8, 2016
Washington, D.C. / Seattle W.A. — The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the business voice of the LGBT community, is excited to announce that King County Executive Dow Constantine has decided to bring contracting and procurement opportunities to the thousands of LGBT-owned businesses in the region. With a population of more than 2.1 million residents, King County is the 13th-largest county in the United States. It will be just the second county, after Essex County in New Jersey, to track how many contracts are awarded to businesses owners who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.
“King County continues a long tradition of creating greater access to the American Dream for the thousands of LGBT business owners who live and work there. By offering an equal seat at the table to bid on King County contracts, we will see the same surge in the job creation, industry innovation, and contributions to the local economy that LGBT businesses owners have earned acclaim for across this country,” says NGLCC Co-Founder and President Justin Nelson.
Contracts are still awarded to businesses that score the highest in the competitive process, regardless of race, gender or sexual identity. What King County has done is increase the number and diversity of small businesses competing for contracts by reaching out to small business owners that have historically been disadvantaged and making the procurement process more accessible.
Now the county will expand the approach to include LGBT small business owners to increase visibility and create a more equitable environment. By creating a directory of LGBT-owned small businesses, King County will also better connect local business owners, acting as a catalyst for economic activity.
“King County is now committed to enhancing the visibility of its thriving LGBT business community. Economic visibility, just like social visibility, is essential in building a diverse and inclusive society, as NGLCC and our local affiliates, like the Greater Seattle Business Association, continually demonstrate in our successful Supplier Diversity initiatives with the Fortune 500, multiple federal agencies, and the states of Massachusetts and California,” added NGLCC Co-Founder and CEO Chance Mitchell
“Opportunity and access are key ingredients for ensuring the success of small businesses. GSBA applauds King County for its leadership in being the first government agency in the Northwest to recognize Certified LGBTBE® designation so that LGBT businesses will now have parity in opportunity with other minority businesses in the region,” Louise Chernin, President & CEO of the Greater Seattle Business Association, the local NGLCC affiliate chamber.
The county’s successful Small Contractors and Suppliers program has more than doubled the number and value of contracts awarded to local small businesses since Executive Constantine took office. The number of certified small contractors has increased from just over 1,100 in 2010 to more than 2,300 last year. The value of small business contracts over that same period has increased from $23 million to $47.3 million.
King County will become the largest county in the United States to track the number of contracts that are awarded to LGBT entrepreneurs, an approach that has dramatically increased the number and value of contracts awarded to local small businesses owned by women, people of color and people who are disadvantaged during Executive Constantine’s administration.
“We are once again putting King County at the national forefront of social change and justice,” said Executive Constantine. “We are stronger when we reduce barriers to opportunity so everyone can fully participate in our economy. By supporting local LGBT entrepreneurs, we are making progress toward a just, equitable society.”
The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is the business voice of the LGBT community and is the largest global not-for-profit advocacy organization specifically dedicated to expanding economic opportunities and advancements for LGBT people. NGLCC is the exclusive certification body for LGBT-owned businesses. www.nglcc.org
Jonathan D. Lovitz
Vice President of External Affairs, NGLCC