We’re very excited to welcome the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce (CLGBTCC) as a partner in our resource network! Launched in 1992, the CLGBTCC has established a network of business contacts and friendships to encourage and support businesses who promote positive role models within Charlotte’s Lesbian and Gay community. The organization provides its members with many networking and educational opportunities for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender business community.
We had the chance to talk with Chad Turner, President of the CLGBTCC to learn more about the chamber, and the resources it provides to its members and the LGBT community!
CBR: How did the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce begin and why was it first established?
Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce (CLGBTCC): The Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce began in 1992 as the Charlotte Business Guild. The purpose was to create a “safe” networking environment for LGBT business owners and professionals without calling attention to the fact that they were LGBT. Four years ago, the Chamber made the decision to nix the name Charlotte Business Guild and fully “come out of the closet” because the board felt that it was good for business!
CBR: What would you like small business owners to know about the services that you provide?
CLGBTCC: We do provide traditional chamber services such as networking, training, and exposure to the community. In addition, we are one of two organizations within the state that oversees the LGBT Business Enterprise Certification process through our national chamber, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC. Further, we promote equity within the workplace and marketplace through educational and training opportunities as well as advancing public policy and advocacy.
CBR: What are the biggest hurdles for entrepreneurs of the LGBT community who want to start a business in Charlotte? How are you helping them overcome those obstacles?
CLGBTCC: Currently, LGBT business owners are not recognized by the City or County as a Minority Business Enterprise. While we can compete in most corporate arena’s for contracting as an LGBTBE, we can not on governmental levels. The challenge is to get our businesses recognized and educating our leaders and community on the buying power of the LGBT community not only as consumers but as business owners as well.
CBR: What have been some of the greatest achievements of the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce?
CLGBTCC: We were recognized as the Human Rights Campaign’s Organization of the Year for our immense growth and community efforts through education and philanthropy. In addition, local leaders have consistently given recognition for our programs in and around equity, diversity, and inclusion.
CBR: How can people get involved with the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce?
CLGBTCC: At the very least, become a business or professional member and experience the benefits that we provide. We also have committees that focus on membership, development, policy and advocacy, events and programs etc. In addition, each year we do hold elections for board members and welcome those in membership to assist us in leading this great organization!
CBR: Do you offer any networking or educational opportunities to members? What other benefits are available through becoming a member?
CLGBTCC: On the second Wednesday of each month we offer breakfast at a Morning Mixer. This year it is sponsored by Amelies in NODA from 8am-9am. Every fourth Tuesday we meet for our monthly event that is topic based but includes drinks, hors-d’oeuvres and networking opportunities with our corporate partners and leaders. In addition, we offer workshops in entrepreneurship, supplier diversity, diversity and inclusion, funding and grants, branding and marketing, business plan writing, resume building, social media and much more! We also present along with Wells Fargo, our Pride in Business EXPO each year to showcase our LGBT owned businesses and businesses and organizations that support equality for all!
CBR: What types of other businesses and groups do you work closely with?
CLGBTCC: We work closely with other minority chambers such as the Latin, Black and Asian Chambers here in Charlotte. We are an official affiliate of the National LGBT Chamber and Diversity Council Member of the Charlotte Chamber. Our strategic partnerships include Charlotte Business Resources, Charlotte Business INClusion, CRVA, Small Business Administration and the City of Charlotte.