COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The city of Columbus unveiled a new certification program for LGBTQ+ owned businesses last week. 

In partnership with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Columbus launched a program June to certify Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Business Enterprises. 

“The LGBTQ+ community is integral to every facet of our city and deserves every opportunity to thrive,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther. “By expanding equity in our programs and practices, we do the right thing by becoming a more inclusive city while driving competition, generating potential savings and improving the quality of services for our residents.” 

Businesses certified as LGBTBEs will benefit from a slew of opportunities from increased participation in city procurement and contract opportunities to access training, networking, outreach, and engagement programs. 

In addition, Columbus will add certified businesses to the city’s online vendor directory to enhance their online presence and allow them to market themselves to internal buyers, public partners in other municipalities, the private sector, and residents. The directory is entirely vendor-driven, with businesses given complete control of what is uploaded to their business page, including statements, photographs, social media pages, and more.  

Because the city would now be aware of the business, Columbus will begin communicating with them on how they can work together and continue sharing growth opportunities. The businesses will also have access to the city’s business development specialists. 

“LGBTQ+ business owners are our friends, neighbors, they are taxpayers and contributing members of society,” said Damita Brown, City of Columbus Chief Diversity Officer. “These businesses are viable entities that have a great deal of wealth of knowledge to share with our city and our community.” 

Businesses interested in seeking certification should apply via the NGLCC website. The NGLCC utilizes a thorough, fully accredited certification process with the following eligibility requirements:

  • “LGBTBE” shall mean a registered business that is an independent and continuing for-profit operation performing a commercially useful function.
  • At least 51% is independently owned, operated, and controlled by one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons who are either a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
  • Owner must have all filings, licenses, permits, and authorities required by law to perform the scope of work.
  • Be located in the United States.

Brown said the partnership has been on the city’s radar before the pandemic when Columbus introduced a similar certification for minority and women-owned businesses. The city knew bringing LGBTQ+ business partners to the table was long overdue. 

For Columbus to grow as an attractive city for businesses to relocate and for individuals to want to raise their families, Brown said Columbus needs these initiatives to reflect the diversity of Columbus. 

Brown says Columbus looks across every industry within the city, from construction and landscaping to furniture and architectural engineering, to identify and support small, local, and minority-owned businesses to enhance their opportunities.  

The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce found LGBTQ+-owned businesses have generated $1.7 trillion for the U.S. economy, created 33,000 jobs, and increased $2 million in annual revenue. 

“[Columbus] is not capturing a tremendous growth opportunity for our community,” Brown said. “So, we want to be able to say, ‘We see you, we value you, and we want to partner with you to continue to make our city great.’ That’s why it’s important.”

View more information on the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and other programs here.