National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Department of Agriculture Sign Historic Memorandum of Understanding to Promote Economic Opportunity for LGBT Americans
| By Andy DiAntonio
The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the business voice of the global LGBT community, is proud to announce its latest Memorandum of Understanding with a federal agency to promote the inclusion of NGLCC Certified LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs) in government procurement and supply chains. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, under the leadership of Secretary Tom Vilsack, will work closely with the NGLCC to provide opportunities to certified LGBT-owned businesses looking to secure vendor contracts with the Department and its agencies throughout the country. In 2015, USDA's 11 main buying agencies constituted over $5.4 billion in USDA contracts, of which approximately 50 percent went to small and disadvantaged businesses.
“We proudly welcome this partnership with the Department of Agriculture to add many top-quality, competitive LGBT businesses to their vast national supply chains, ensuring America’s continued leadership in food production, agricultural innovation, and natural resource development,” said NGLCC Co-Founder & President Justin Nelson." This is another important milestone for NGLCC’s advocacy work on behalf of the LGBT business community, bringing us one step closer to full inclusion of LGBT business enterprises in all federal procurement. With this partnership, the USDA had affirmed two of NGLCC’s primary values: that diversity is good for business, and that our national economy must be fully inclusive of all American business owners.”
This agreement is being established to develop and foster mutual understanding and a working relationship between USDA's 17 agencies and 18 offices, and the 1.4 million LGBT business owners NGLCC represents in order to strengthen and expand small business development, to increase participation of LGBT-owned small businesses in USDA's programs, and to increase procurement opportunities for LGBT-owned small businesses nationwide. For decades, USDA has consistently been one of the federal government's leaders in contracting commitments with small and disadvantaged businesses, more than doubling the overall federal statutory goal of 23 percent in the Small Business Act.
“A diverse workforce is a strong workforce, and today USDA is proud to partner with NGLCC to make sure every American business owner has access to the tools they need to succeed,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We look forward to working with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to expand economic advancement for LGBT Americans in communities across the country.”
The USDA joins the US Small Business Administration (USBA), Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), Department of Commerce (DOC), and the Department of Labor in commitments to LGBT business inclusion and economic opportunity throughout their agencies.
USDA and the NGLCC intend to focus on communications at the national and local levels in order to support program objectives and goals set forth in this historic MOU. Through this effort, NGLCC will assist in USDA's outreach efforts to small and minority-owned businesses to promote cooperation and collaborative action on issues involving USDA's key initiatives and contract and procurement opportunities by helping to identify LGBT-owned businesses for USDA's outreach and contracting requirements.
“It’s fitting that we achieve another powerful milestone for the NGLCC and the LGBT business community in the midst of our record-breaking 2016 International Business & Leadership Conference and as we celebrate certifying our 900th LGBT Business Enterprise. We’re grateful to the USDA for choosing this moment to stand in solidarity and support of the NGLCC’s mission,” said NGLCC Co-Founder and CEO Chance Mitchell.