Atlanta gay chamber first in new federal program to boost LGBT businesses

The Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce made history on Friday, Jan. 23, when it became the first LGBT chamber of commerce in the nation to sign a Strategic Alliance Memorandum agreement with the federal Small Business Administration’s Georgia District Office.

This is the first formalized agreement between an LGBT chamber of commerce and a SBA district office.

The signing of the official paperwork was made at an AGLCC event on Friday at the Egyptian Ballroom of the Fox Theatre, sponsored in part by Gayborhood.

“This partnership represents a monumental step forward for LGBT business in Georgia,” said AGLCC President Andria Towne, in a statement. “We are excited to be working with the local district office of the SBA and the National Gay Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to further expand business certification opportunities for LGBT-owned businesses.”

The purpose of the SAM is to develop and foster mutual understanding and a working relationship between the SBA and the AGLCC in order to strengthen and expand small business development, said Terri Denison, Georgia’s SBA district director, in a statement.

“The mission of the SBA and AGLCC is co-joined in that we both help start, maintain and expand small businesses.  We are encouraged to team with AGLCC to offer SBA programs and services,” Denison said.

The SBA estimates there are nearly 2 million LGBT-owned businesses in the U.S. and has been working on initiatives to help these businesses get loans as either start up or to expand their businesses.

Eugene Cornelius, Jr., deputy associate administrator, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Small Business Administration, said of the agreement, in a prepared statement: “Calling all LGBT businesses—this is a fine example of our national initiative which will kick off next month ‘The LGBT Business Builder’ in cooperation with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. These are exciting times for moving the economic needle in the LGBT business community. I am very proud of and commend the Georgia District Office and the AGLCC.”

“This strategic alliance between our local affiliate chamber, the Atlanta Gay Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and the SBA Georgia district office is a great example of what this partnership between the NGLCC and the SBA will accomplish,” said Sam McClure, vice president, Affiliate Relations & External Affairs, National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re taking the collaboration out of Washington DC and bringing it to where our shared stakeholders live, work and build their businesses. We expect to see many more strategic alliances built with our local affiliate chambers across the nation.”