Please make sure to review and use the additional links provided below on the organizations highlighted in this blog.
As a charter member and current treasurer of the Raleigh Business and Professional Network (RBPN), one of the 38 US affiliate chapters of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber (NGLCC), I was energized by the exciting news shared at our monthly dinner meeting. Over 40 local LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) and ally business owners, professionals and retirees were on hand to network and hear our guest speaker, Raleigh’s Senior Area Manager of the North Carolina District Office of the US Small Business Administration (SBA) Patrick Rodriguez. He shared the recent announcement of the new SBA – LGBT Business Builder initiative as well as explaining the details of various SBA programs and resources available to small businesses.
The new SBA- NGLCC “LGBT Business Builder” will bring together expertise and resources from the staff at SBA regional and district offices, NGLCC’s 38 affiliate chapters in the US and other resource partners so that LGBT-owned business will have full access to the NGLCC’s and SBA’s full suite of offerings that help business succeed. Link to the complete February 5, 2015 announcement. This partnership highlights that as with all minority communities, the fight for civil rights and for market rights / economic empowerment are strongly linked.
After sharing this announcement at the March RBPN meeting, Patrick provided the audience with a great tutorial of many services available from the SBA to help small business launch and then successfully grow and sustain themselves. The offerings include:
• Counseling. Small business owners are not out there by ourselves needing to figure out everything needed to start and run a business from scratch. Classes and one-on-one counseling help are available through the Women’s Business Centers (4 in NC), SCORE Chapters (10 in NC), and the Small Business Technical Development Centers (15 in NC)
• Capital. Loans of all sizes are made much more accessible and come with better terms through SBA guarantees. Loans are available for start up, company real estate and sustaining a business
• Contracting. Assistance in becoming an actual contractor or subcontractor for the many areas of the US Federal Government, which has multi-billions of dollars in procurement spending.
This new LGBT Business Builder partnership is still in its very early stages with many of the execution details to be launched, including here in North Carolina. I am looking forward with great anticipation as more LGBT-owned business start and grow in Raleigh and across the rest of NC and beyond!
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Blog author Stan C. Kimer is the founder and owner of Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer, the first certified LGBT-Business Enterprise in Raleigh, NC.
RBPN board member Ben Kittner, included in the blog photo above, is founder and president of College Performance Coaching, a new entrepreneurial venture.
The US Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the US Federal Government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns. Additional link to North Carolina specific site.
The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is the business voice of the LGBT community and is the largest global not-for-profit advocacy organization specifically dedicated to expanding economic opportunities and advancements for LGBT people.