Chamber head urges businesses to get certified

Posted on 15 Mar 2007 at 8:19pm
By John Wright

National Gay, Lesbian Chamber president speaks at local organization’s anniversary dinner about importance of Supplier Diversity program



National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce President Justin Nelson hopes to triple the amount of money brought into LGBT-owned businesses in the Supplier Diversity program in 2007.

Get your business certified as LGBT-owned and -operated, and help get other people’s businesses certified, too.

That was the message from the president of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce during the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce’s Second Annual Dinner on Monday, March 12.

Awards were presented to several Chamber members at the event in recognition of their work with and for the organization.

NGLCC President Justin Nelson, the keynote speaker, touted his organization’s Supplier Diversity Initiative, which connects corporate America with GLBT-owned businesses through the certification process.

Nelson said the two-year-old program brought $14 million to GLBT-owned businesses in 2005 and $120 million in 2006.

“We’re on track to triple that for 2007,” Nelson told a gathering of about 150 at the Westin City Center in Dallas.

“It’s the next big thing for LGBT businesses,” he added. “There are more and more corporations that are looking to add LGBT suppliers. Now is the time to get certified.”

To do so, Nelson said, a business must be 50 percent or more LGBT-owned and -operated.

There currently are 300 LGBT businesses nationwide that are certified or in process, he said, but less than 5 percent are in North Texas.

Once a business is certified, it is added to an NGLCC database that can be searched by corporations seeking LGBT suppliers. Certified businesses also can register their status on corporations’ Web sites and participate in matchmaking events sponsored by NGLCC.

The idea, Nelson said, is to create an association similar to those that represent women- and minority-owned businesses.

“They’ve been doing this for a number of years,” he said.

One local business owner said certification has already helped him.

Jay Forte, who owns Plano-based American Language Technologies Inc., said his translation and interpreting business is on the brink of landing a major contract.

“We are in negotiations with a couple of big companies that have kept in touch with us through the certification program,” Forte said.

Forte, who is now helping other local businesses with certification, said the process is fairly simple.

“It’s a little paperwork, it’s a site visit, and it’s proving to the body that you’re a bonified business and you’re GLBT-owned,” Forte said.

Sherry Briggs, president of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, said representatives from several major corporations including Texas Instruments, Verizon and JCPenney attended a luncheon on the Supplier Diversity Initiative prior to the Second Annual Dinner.

“The feedback that I got from them was they were very excited that there was a certification process for [GLBT] businesses,” said Briggs, whose Zebra Printing is also certified.

“They said it would be easier to find them and partner up with them,” the chamber president added.

To learn more about certification, visit www.nglcc.org.

E-mail wright@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 16, 2007

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