Georgia has fifth-most registered LGBTBEs
When it comes to finding LGBT-owned businesses to support in Atlanta, one doesn’t have to look far. From seasoned city staples like Charis Books & More to relative newcomers like Henry’s Midtown Tavern, there are countless local business owners hoisting the rainbow flag.
Yet despite all of that visibility, a surprising fact remains. Just 44 businesses in Georgia are registered as LGBT Businesses Enterprises, a national designation that qualifies companies to compete for the type of big-ticket corporate contracts that can take them to the next level.
It’s an imbalance that rankles Daniel Dunlop, newly-named president of the Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, who is charged with promoting economic growth and development among the city’s LGBT-owned businesses. The group’s response: A day-long summit designed to bring LGBT businesses and corporations together to network, assess the region’s LGBT economy and discuss their role in helping rainbow commerce thrive in Atlanta.
Rise of the Rainbow Economy: The 2017 AGLCC LGBT Business Summit will take place June 23 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Midtown. Organizers expect 250 business owners to turn out for a day of panel discussions and workshops, with business giants like Coke, Georgia Power and Wells Fargo. The event also includes a mayoral panel moderated by journalist Maria Saporta. Five out of nine mayoral candidates are expected to attend, Dunlop said. The event is a first for the chamber. “It’s been in the plans for the last couple of years,” Dunlop said, adding that a minigrant won last summer helped crystallize plans. “We wanted to just bring together any areas of the economic force – business and personal consumption and policy advocacy.”
Indeed, the event is billed as a seminar
June 9, 2017
“exploring the intersectionality of personal, professional and social responsibility and advocacy.” It’s a broad field to cover and Dunlop acknowledged the event would be only a first step.
“We can’t obviously deep dive in one afternoon,” he said. “But we are touching on some important parts that bring together the whole rise of the rainbow economy.” That economy is booming, according to a January report from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce that estimated the nation’s roughly 1.4 million LGBT businesses contributed nearly $2 trillion to the national economy in 2015.
Less impressive is the number of businesses registered as LGBT Business Enterprises – LGBTBEs – through the national chamber. Nationwide, just over 900 businesses have the registration, which qualifies them to compete for business under diverse supplier initiatives at some of the nation’s largest companies.
Georgia has the fifth-highest number of registered LGBTBEs in the nation, but
By DIONNE N. WALKER
Dunlop sees potential for many more. The group hopes to double registries over the next few years by encouraging businesses to recognize the value of identifying as LGBT-owned.
“Sometimes there are those that don’t see the need, but it’s important that we stand and be counted,” he said. “There’s power in information, there’s power in coming together and there’s power in identifying.”
Dunlop said some businesses are discouraged by the extensive, multi-level verification process required to get the certification. Still others aren’t sure how they could market their services to corporations even if they were registered.
The June event will feature tips for kicking off conversations with corporate entities as well as ways to make your smaller business more appealing. He gave the example of a niche production company partnering with a caterer to pursue an opportunity.
“It becomes a stronger, inclusive contract, to be able to compete at that level,” he said. “We’re going to be telling that story – to look for those like-minded services.”
Though the process of registering is extensive, business owners will quickly realize the value, said Billy Cochran, vice president CONTINUES ON PAGE 13