Baltimore mayor issues order recognizing LGBTQ-owned businesses

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has signed an executive order recognizing LGBTQ-owned businesses, a move that could bring a significant amount of work to the community.

The move puts lesbian-gay, bisexual, transgender and queer-owned businesses in the same league as women- and minority-owned businesses that are afforded a certain percentage of product or service work on city contracts or those receiving city incentives.

The mayor said the move reflects her commitment to supplier diversity and will contribute to the health of the small business community and the city, with its large LGBTQ population.

“Baltimore is an inclusive city and is made more vibrant by the diversity of our residents,” Pugh said in a statement.

“By including the LGBTQ community in our supplier diversity programs, the city and the broader community are the real beneficiaries of their tremendous skills, talents, innovations and expertise,” she said. “This is what a 21st Century city should be about — encouraging the best ideas, approaches and capabilities and allowing them to succeed for the benefit of us all.”

The move makes Baltimore the largest city to include LGBTQ-owned businesses in a diversity program, according to Jonathan D. Lovitz, senior vice president of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, which would certify the businesses. Other cities with such orders include Jersey City and Hoboken, N.J.

Lovitz predicted the move will prompt other cities to expand their programs. And he said it will encourage more businesses to become certified, giving them more opportunities locally and potentially across the country to grow and produce jobs.

“This week Mayor Pugh of the City of Baltimore (a $2.8 Billion dollar city economy) will announce that Baltimore will be the largest city in America to include certified LGBT business enterprises into city contracting — allowing LGBTBEs to gain access to millions of dollars in contracts, as well as economic development programs that lead to job creation in the LGBTQ community,” he said in an emailed statement to The Baltimore Sun. “She clearly recognizes the importance of including the LGBT business community (and the $1.7 TRILLION we add to the economy every year) in the city’s economic development plan.”

Baltimore was ranked in 2015 as the fifth most friendly city in the United States for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people by the San Francisco-based financial advice website NerdWallet. An analysis found that 3.9 percent of people in the Baltimore metropolitan region identify as LGBTQ.

meredith.cohn@baltsun.com

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