New York Metropolis provides LGBTQ companies entry to contracts

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It looks like LGBTQ-owned small businesses in New York are getting a seat at the table.

According to the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) will begin providing queer-owned small businesses with access to city contracts, educational programs, and other benefits. The move comes almost two years after then-councilor Ritchie Torres stood outside the town hall steps on a freezing February day and first tabled a bill requiring the agency to certify LGBTQ-owned companies.

While this calculation never went forward, SBS is still moving forward on its own.

The Agency and the National Chamber of Commerce for LGBT People (NGLCC) have reached an agreement that laid the groundwork for a new policy to align LGBTQ-controlled businesses with the city’s minority and women-owned businesses (MWBE) program should ).

Queer-owned small businesses can also get mentoring, training, business matchmaker meetings, and access to capital, according to NGLCC, which has campaigned for years to certify LGBTQ businesses in the city. In total, billions of dollars in city contracts are opening up for queer business owners, NGLCC said.

The city joins a growing list of cities and states that have incorporated LGBTQ-owned businesses into city contracts, including Hoboken, New Jersey; Baltimore, Maryland; and Orlando, Florida.

It is not immediately clear whether the new policy is fully in line with legislation that has stalled in the city council, although it appears to be similar in scope, and an NGLCC spokesperson told Gay City News that the legislation is now ” disputed “. Under this legislation, SBS would have been required to publish a directory of certified LGBTQ businesses and provide information and resources to business owners.

When this bill was proposed in 2019, gay city council spokesman Corey Johnson raised concerns about the city’s authority to support such businesses without just certifying them. Johnson told Gay City News at the time that while LGBTQ owned business owners “could celebrate and promote their LGBTQ ownership status,” state law does not currently allow the city to provide preferential contract services to these businesses, so it is unclear What are the benefits of certification? “

The bill would have provided no benefits for the evaluation of city contracts, but it could have resulted in disparity studies, which are typically carried out to justify the need for MBWE programs. Our gay city council member Daniel Dromm from Queens had proposed a bill that provides for such a disparity study.

SBS did not immediately answer Gay City News’ questions about whether the city council’s bills were still required given the policy.

Mitch Lippman from the Mitch-Lippman Group stood with his sign in City Hall in 2019.Matt Tracy

The head of SBS celebrated the new policy change in a separate written statement.

“Equality of access and inclusion are at the core of our work at SBS,” said SBS Commissioner Jonnel Doris in a written statement. “A diverse pool of suppliers makes New York City stronger, and we’re excited to maximize the involvement of LGBTQ-certified companies in the city’s certification process. We look forward to our continued partnership with the NGLCC. “

Dromm, a major contributor to efforts to empower queer-owned companies, also praised the new policy and welcomed it as a “historic deal”.

“When it comes to starting and growing businesses, LGBTQ entrepreneurs face many significant and varied challenges,” added Dromm. “I am delighted that these business owners who were once excluded from much-needed contract and procurement opportunities can attend. I worked with Congressman Ritchie Torres and the NGLCC to raise the alarm and raise awareness of these endeavors, which are ultimately about fairness and justice. “

He added: “Thank you to SBS for intensifying and agreeing to this partnership. It will affect the lives of thousands of New Yorkers in meaningful and lasting ways. “

NGLCC Co-Founder and President Justin Nelson thanked Mayor Bill de Blasio and SBS for encouraging queer entrepreneurs.

“New York City has a legacy of leadership in promoting inclusivity at all levels of public life,” Nelson said in a written statement. “Now history has been made here in New York City, and this win for inclusivity has again proven our core values: ‘Diversity is good for business’ and ‘If you can buy it, a certified LGBT-owned company can deliver it.’ We’re excited to see LGBTBEs in everything from construction to food and everything in between, as M / WBEs and EBEs, are helping to grow the economy in New York City and beyond. “

Since queer colored and lesbian, bisexual and transgender women are able to take advantage of existing programs, LGBTQ-specific certification would likely be more beneficial for white gay men, non-binary people, and transgender men.

Speaking to Gay City News in 2019, Torres, now elected to Congress, dismissed any concerns that LGBTQ entrepreneurs would disrupt existing contracts for women and minority owned businesses.

“We’re in a business where people are conditioned to be afraid of everything,” said Torres. “Ultimately, this is an unfounded fear. There is not a single example of LGBT certification that undermines a traditional MWBE program. Not a single one. “

According to the NGLCC, the application information for the new program will be released “Early 2021”.

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