Cleveland and Columbus offer an LGBTQ+ business certification process. So why aren’t any businesses actually certified?

LGBTQ+ Business Enterprises are part of an intentional effort to create jobs, provide opportunities and build equity...if people sign up. Since 2014, more than 25 public entities — such as Houston, Miami Beach and Nashville — have signed on to offer the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)’s process to certify Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs), including Cleveland and recently Columbus. But despite great fanfare in announcing the new program, few businesses have actually signed up.    

Cleveland was one of the first cities in the U.S. to offer LGBTBEs, opting into the NGLCC program in 2015. The advertised benefits include networking, an online business directory and training on how to secure government contracts. But while the certification has been available for seven years, there currently aren’t any companies with LGBTBEs listed on the city’s online directory.