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This New York legislation could do something amazing for local LGBT businesses

This New York legislation could do something amazing for local LGBT businesses

State Senator Brad Hoylman (center) at the launch of his Supplier Diversity Act today

A New York State Senator, Brad Hoylman, with the support of the National Lesbian and Gay Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), today introduced legislation that will expand state contracting opportunities for LGBT-owned businesses.

Hoylman, a Manhattan Democratic, introduced his New York State Supplier Diversity Act today in the State Senate.

If passed later this year, it will boost access to some of the state’s 50,000 annual contracts (worth some $240billion) to LGBT-, disability-, and veteran-owned small businesses.

The legislation is similar to that which was adopted last fall in Massachusetts.

However, in that instance, Governor Charlie Barker issued an executive order commanding that LGBT, disability and veteran owned businesses should be considered for Government contracts – in the same way that black, minority ethnic and women-owned businesses already are.

Currently, the US federal government allocates 23% of its contracting work to small businesses, and of that, 5% is essentially for disadvantaged businesses – typically minority-owned. This can differ slightly from state to state: Following Barker’s Executive Order, Massachusetts now has a benchmark of 7% for small, minority-owned business enterprises.

Similar legislation was introduced in California in early 2015, but that only concerned state energy contracts.

The New York legislation falls short of setting a percentage target for state contracting but it will establish a directory of certified, contract-ready small businesses.

It will also develop a statewide plan to promote LGBT-, disability-, and veteran-owned small businesses; and coordinate the training of personnel across state agencies to ensure greater awareness of the challenges and barriers that these particular business owners face.

‘New York State currently has more than 50,000 contracts worth nearly $240 billion a year’

State Senator Brad Hoylman (center) with husband David Sigal and daughter Sylvia
State Senator Brad Hoylman (center) with husband David Sigal and daughter Sylvia

Senator Hoylman, who represents the 27th District, lives with his husband and daughter in Greenwich village. He said in a statement, ‘New York State currently has more than 50,000 contracts worth nearly $240 billion a year.

‘The success of our state’s Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise program has demonstrated that our state has an opportunity and responsibility to leverage those tremendous resources to ensure a seat at the table for those who remain underrepresented in state contracting or the business world.

‘The Supplier Diversity Act will make New York a true engine of economic development, creating jobs and opportunities for the LGBT, disability and veteran communities.’

The National Lesbian and Gay Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) is named in the bill as the officially recognized certification provider.

‘Nothing says “Ever Upward” like New York leading the way in equality by creating greater access to the American Dream,’ said NGLCC Co-Founder and CEO Chance Mitchell.

‘By offering New Yorkers who are LGBT or with disabilities an equal seat at the table, the New York State Supplier Diversity Act has the power to economically advance diverse communities.’

‘We expect a major increase in applications for job-creating, economy-innovating LGBT businesses’

The NGLCC estimates that up to 86,000 businesses in New York may be LGBT-owned – working on an LGBT population estimate of 4.4%.

Currently, NGLCC has just over 1,000 LGBT-certified businesses across the US – of which the majority are in the New York region. It’s almost certain to see a further upswing in requests for certification from businesses in New York should the legislation be passed.

‘As we saw with the over 200% increase in LGBTBE certifications following California’s AB1678 mandate, we expect a major increase in applications for job-creating, economy-innovating LGBT businesses throughout the State of New York,’ said NGLCC Senior Vice President Sam McClure in a statement.

Jeff Chastain, a New York-based salon owner and owner of Parlor hair products welcomed news of the legislation.

‘I am not certified, but I have thought about it. This definitely makes me want to pursue it sooner rather than later,’ he told Gay Star Business.

‘When dealing with the business world, being in a community of other LGBT business owners gives you a stronger voice.

‘Having the government recognize this amplifies our voice and makes us stronger.’

‘We would happily certify ourselves in order to expand our business opportunities’

His views were echoed by New York-based Alan Klein, partner in Public Impact Media Consultants, who said, ‘As a gay-owned business started in 1990, we would happily certify ourselves in order to expand our business opportunities and work with a wider cross-section of clients. Greater workplace diversity is a win-win; it leads to expanded opportunity and creativity.’

‘This proposed legislation reaffirms New York State as a diversity leader, in sharp contrast to the states that have passed anti-LGBT legislation and are now facing economic backlash.’

News of the legislation was also welcomed by Andres Wydler, Executive Director of LGBT business entrepreneur network group, StartOut.

‘First Massachusetts’ and now New York’s economies – if this act is passed – will benefit greatly from the inclusion of LGBT owned businesses. We congratulate NY and the NGLCC for achieving this milestone and encourage all the other States and the Federal Government to follow suit and reap the benefits of supporting LGBT entrepreneurs and businesses. After all, LGBT businesses advance not just their communities but society as a whole.’

The act already has a co-sponsor: NYS Assembly Member Harry Bronson (D-Rochester), who is himself an openly gay business owner.

‘We now have support in both houses,’ an NGLCC spokesperson told Gay Star Business, ‘So we begin the lobbying process to ensure support and passage before the end of this Assembly session or at the start of the next.’

The Wall Street Journal says that the details of the bill are set to be reviewed by New York governor Andrew Cuomo.