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of TP Cor­po­rate Lodg­ing, in Nor­cross. The com­pany is a reg­is­tered LGBTBE and he said they have al­ready seen a bump in busi­ness as a re­sult.

“There are busi­nesses look­ing to spend with these [LGBT] com­pa­nies,” said Cochran, who will be at the event. “This is a place to go and learn how that can hap­pen, as well as net­work.”

Cochran said he was heart­ened by how of­ten he’s be­gun see­ing com­pany pro­cure­ment pro­cesses in­clud­ing a check­box for LGBT-owned.

“You never re­ally know what’s go­ing to bring you busi­ness and if you look at the re­turn on in­vest­ment for the time and en­ergy it takes to get that cer­ti­fi­ca­tion verses tak­ing out an ad – this is def­i­nitely go­ing to be a bet­ter re­turn on your in­vest­ment,” he said.

Look­ing for an even play­ing field

The con­ver­sa­tions are par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant when it comes to high-pro­file events with mil­lions of dol­lars in po­ten­tial busi­ness. For lo­cal LGBT busi­nesses, one of the big­gest up­com­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties lies in the Super Bowl, ex­pected to draw count­less foot­ball fans – and their dol­lars – to At­lanta in 2019

“Our fel­low cham­ber in San Fran­cisco, for Super Bowl 50, they were suc­cess­ful in help­ing their LGBT com­mu­nity gain 18 con­tracts with the NFL host com­mit­tee,” said Dun­lop, adding mem­bers from that cham­ber will share tips for their suc­cess at the June 23 event.

But LGBT busi­ness is­sues aren’t lim­ited to get­ting big con­tracts. Dun­lop pointed out that a lack of state-level pro­tec­tion means At­lanta LGBT busi­nesses are still vul­ner­a­ble to dis­crim­i­na­tion by every­body from land­lords to loan of­fi­cers.

Un­til laws change, Dun­lop said LGBT busi­ness own­ers have to fo­cus on cre­at­ing sup­port at the cor­po­rate level and even among lo­cal law­mak­ers, like the five may­oral can­di­dates ex­pected to at­tend.

Those who had ac­cepted the in­vite, as of the first week in June, in­clude for­mer City of At­lanta COO Peter Aman, At­lanta City Coun­cilmem­ber Keisha Lance Bot­toms, Ful­ton County Com­mis­sion Chair­man John Eaves, for­mer At­lanta City Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Cathy Woolard and cur­rent At­lanta City Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Ceasar Mitchell.

The can­di­dates will be there to dis­cuss their vi­sion for the city econ­omy as well as lay out their plans for sup­port­ing the busi­ness com­mu­nity as a whole and LGBT busi­nessper­sons in par­tic­u­lar.

Un­til laws change at the state level, Dun­lop said it’s crit­i­cal that the LGBT busi­ness com­mu­nity find sup­port at the mu­nic­i­pal level.

“There’s a lot of leg­is­la­tion that can af­fect LGBT busi­ness and we just want to hear what their thoughts are,” he said, later adding, “We’re not look­ing to have an ad­van­tage, we’re look­ing to have an even play­ing field.”

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