Businesses must be at least 51 percent owned, operated and managed by someone who is LGBTQ to be certified. (Photo Credit Gorodenkoff via Adobe Stock)

Small businesses all over Charlotte have been getting their LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) Certification. This effort is being spearheaded by the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce (CLGBTCC) and the virtual event, “How to Maximize Your LGBTBE Certification” will take place on Friday, April 6 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

“During COVID-19, the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce was able to pivot to fulfill the needs of the community and to continue engagement,” says Ciara Lilly, the Chamber’s Board Chair. “We were able to gauge the needs of the community by surveying Chamber members.”

The polls concluded that small businesses have been at great risk of closure throughout COVID-19 and were strongly lacking in resources. CLGTBCC has been providing via webinars.

The LGBTBE itself has been available through NGLCC since 2004. In order to meet the certification’s criteria, businesses must be a minimum of 51 percent owned, operated, and managed by someone who is LGBTQ. “It essentially works like veteran business enterprises and minority business enterprises,” Lilly explains.

CLGBTCC’s role in these certifications include site visits, outreach, and events such as the upcoming “How to Maximize Your LGBTBE Certification” seminar. This event will be like a fireside chat, featuring Alicia Greene, Director of Supplier Diversity for NGLCC and allow live questions and guided advice on best practices. The webinar will be monitored by Lilly, who will ensure that the conversation between participants and Greene is as interactive as possible.

“One of the biggest opportunities available to those with [the] LGBTBE certificate is partnership with corporations seeking to diversify their supply chain,” Lilly offers. “These companies aim to diversify their supply chains with small and diverse businesses.”

According to Lilly, the Fortune-ranked companies that are reaching out to the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce are doing so with the intent of finding LGBTQ businesses.

“Charlotte’s strategy is to work closely with the National Chamber,” Lilly continues, “facilitating relationships between the corporations and businesses. For corporations, we support their supplier diversity and diversity and inclusion initiatives. For LGBT business enterprises, we help them navigate corporate culture and identify contracting opportunities with corporations that could use their products and/or services.”

We help with the creation of diversity and inclusion in their workforces. For the small businesses, we help the navigation of corporate culture.”

When asked who the ideal candidates for LGBTBE certification are, Lilly offered additional insight: “If you provide a product or service that’s good for corporate clientele, certification may be for you. There are no size restrictions for participation [and] small startups are welcome.”

For those who are small business members of the Charlotte Chamber, the cost of certification is waived. Previous certification is not required for participation and the meeting is for interested business owners, as well as established LGBTBE recipients.

To register for the event go to


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