Money & Business

Report: LGBT-Owned Businesses on the Rise

By / Jan 24, 2017 (iStock/Thinkstock)

A first-of-its-kind report from the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce suggests a growing economic reach for LGBT-owned businesses, as diversity-focused companies increasingly rely on such firms as vendors.

The word is out: LGBT-owned businesses are an economic force to be reckoned with.

That’s according to a new report from the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), which analyzed the economic impact of LGBT-owned businesses throughout the country. The analysis in America’s LGBT Economy [PDF] is said to be the first in-depth study of businesses specifically owned by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans.

And the top-line numbers certainly make the case for the industry’s sheer economic power. Among those stats:

Of the LGBT businesses certified by NGLCC, the economic impact is $1.15 billion annually. If this is extended out to the projections the group has for the economy as a whole, the total economic contribution is more than $1.7 trillion. The 900-plus certified businesses, on their own, represent a creation of 33,000 jobs per year in the United States.

LGBT businesses aren’t just startups, and they generate a lot of revenue. The average LGBT-based business has existed for 12 years and generates $2.48 million in annual revenue. On the high end, one of NGLCC’s certified members has annual revenue of $180 million.

In comments to Bloomberg, NGLCC President and Cofounder Justin Nelson characterized the success of LGBT-based businesses—between 2012 and 2016, the number of businesses certified by the chamber has basically tripled—as partly driven by enterprise firms that are increasingly willing to partner with diverse vendors.

The chamber says multiple federal agencies, along with more than a third of the Fortune 500, use certified LGBT businesses. Northrop Grumman and Major League Baseball are among the firms eyeing such suppliers.

“Corporate America is saying, ‘We want to do business with you—not despite the fact that you’re LGBT but because you’re LGBT,’” Nelson told the news outlet. “Twenty years ago, it was enough to sponsor a pride parade. It’s not enough anymore.”

The industry’s growth is being driven by specific parts of the country—with California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Georgia representing what the report describes as “a disproportionate concentration” of certified LGBT businesses nationally.

While the chamber’s share of certified LGBT businesses is relatively small—909 businesses have been certified since 2004, and there are said to be 1.4 million LGBT-owned businesses nationally—they signify one major fact, according to the group: They’re likely not going anywhere.

“This groundbreaking report proves our NGLCC philosophy that economic visibility, just like social visibility, is essential in building a diverse and inclusive society,” NGLCC Cofounder and CEO Chance Mitchell said in a news release.

More info on the report, including an infographic, is available on the NGLCC website.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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