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.”