LGBTQ+ Businesses: Adding Over $1.7 Trillion to U.S. Economy

with Lauren Schweppe of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce

LGBTQ+-owned businesses generate over $1.7 trillion in economic impact, help create jobs, and innovate business solutions nationwide. Despite this positive impact on the U.S. economy, 54% of LGBTQ+ Americans live in states that do not protect against credit and loan discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Lauren Schweppe, Director of Programs and Stakeholder Advocacy with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, talks with host Tetiana Anderson about the successes of LGBTQ+-owned businesses, the challenges they face, and efforts to elevate them.

Posted on:

May 27, 2022

Hosted by: Tetiana Anderson
Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Anderson: The 1.4 million LGBT-owned businesses in the U.S. are a growing part of the American economy. These companies bring an estimated $1.7 trillion in revenue. They help create jobs and innovate business solutions nationwide. But despite these positive numbers, research shows LGBT business owners face barriers to economic opportunities due to discrimination. Hello and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Anderson. Members of the LGBT community can be married in 50 states but denied a business loan in 35 of them because of sexual orientation. Joining me to talk about the economic impact of LGBT businesses and a resource to help these owners succeed is Lauren Schweppe, Director of Programs and Stakeholder Advocacy with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. And, Lauren, thank you so much for being here.

Schweppe: Thanks so much, Tetiana. Glad to be here with you.

Anderson: So we're seemingly through the worst of the pandemic, right? States are back open for business. That's great. But your organization says there are still lingering challenges for LGBT business owners in many cases. What are we talking about and why do these barriers exist?

Schweppe: Yeah, Tetiana, that statistic that you just mentioned about in 35 states, LGBT businesses find difficulty getting a business loan. As we saw in the pandemic, businesses and small business particularly were massively affected by the results of the pandemic and the closures that we faced around the nation in order to keep people safe. So these obstacles have really continued to impact these businesses. They struggled a lot when loss of revenue sort of shut down a lot of their businesses. And they still continue to struggle these days because, you know, those impacts, they've maintained. They haven't just gone away because suddenly lockdowns have mostly ended. They've still continued, and we see a lot of businesses who are still struggling to regain the capital and make up for the lack of capital that they had throughout the course of the pandemic.

Anderson: So I'm wondering, how does LGBT business certification make some of the things that you just talked about easier to navigate? I mean, explain what it is and how it works.

Schweppe: Yeah. So our LGBT business certification is available to anyone who is an LGBT business owner. And essentially you -- First we ask that you get certified with -- or become a member of your affiliate chamber. Our affiliate chambers are really an incredible network around the country. We work with over 50 regionally throughout the United States, and they are the boots on the ground. They have access to resources and they know their local economies better than anyone else could. So once you become a member of your affiliate chamber, we waive the certification fee for you to then become NGLCC certified. Once you go through the certification process, which includes submitting your documents and then you are sent to our committee, who then award certification, you get access to programs from educational programs to scholarship opportunities, and also the opportunity to work with over 300 of the Fortune 500 who recognize the NGLCC certification. And they're looking to work with LGBT business owners like you.

Anderson: So what does the public get when these businesses are nurtured and have staying power? I mean, how does this help everybody?

Schweppe: Yeah. So a quote that our co-founder and president Justin Nelson likes to say is "When we all do better, we all do better." LGBT businesses are a key part of the U.S. economy and the statistic that you mentioned earlier, that they contribute $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy, that's not pocket change. That is a lot of money going into the U.S. economy. And when these businesses succeed, all of us succeed and the entire U.S. economy does better.

Anderson: Tell us about the kinds of businesses that you work with and can you share an example or two of how you've seen this collaboration work?

Schweppe: Yeah, absolutely. So sometimes when people think of LGBT business owners, you think florists or cake decorators, but we have businesses and suppliers in every single industry from cybersecurity all the way to construction, and they are businesses of all shapes and sizes as well. We have some businesses who have very large revenue annually and also have lots and lots of employees down to those small sole proprietorships as well. So it is really the -- across the gamut of businesses that represent the LGBT community.

Anderson: And I know that your organization has been around for 20 years. What priorities do you have for the next 20 years?

Schweppe: Yes. So we continue to work to get LGBT businesses recognized in government supply chains. So that's federal, state and local. We've had a lot of success at the local level and we're looking to continue to increase that so LGBT businesses have the capability and the ability to work with the federal, state and local governments, which do add a lot of revenue to these small businesses. We also want to continue to grow our supplier base. So if you're an LGBT business owner who's watching this, I highly recommend going to NGLCC.org and looking into certification. Look into your local affiliate chamber because you are the basis of what we do and you are who we're representing.

Anderson: I'm glad you said that because I was just going to ask you, where can viewers go if they want to find out more? Remind us, Lauren.

Schweppe: NGLCC.org. That's where you can access all the information on certification as well as look at the various programs and offerings that NGLCC provides to LGBT business owners.

Anderson: Lauren Schweppe of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, thank you so much for being here.

Schweppe: Thanks so much for having me.

Anderson: And thanks to our viewers as well for watching. As always, for more great conversations with leaders in your own community and across the nation, visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I'm Tetiana Anderson.

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