From Athens LGBTQA, in Athens, GA, I’m Casie Wilson, and this is Spectrum.
Today, March 24, 2017, we’ll get down to business, discuss the growing number of certified LGBT-owned enterprises and why that number doesn’t accurately represent businesses here in Athens.
In January, the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce reported the number of businesses that are at least 51 percent LGBT-owned and registered has tripled in the past five years.The NGLCC’s 909 registered businesses contributed over 1.15 billon dollars to the U.S. economy in 2015.
However, reports of certified enterprises are not exactly representative of all LGBT business. Athens businesses are underrepresented in these reports. Despite the proposed benefits LGBT chambers of commerce offer, no Athens businesses are registered in either the National or Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chambers of Commerce.
While co-owner of Last Resort Grill Jamshad Zarnegar says he’s never experienced discrimination as an openly gay man, he says he can understand why Athens LGBT business owners would want to keep their orientations and identities private:
“Your sexual preference, to me, is a private matter. But I also think we are no different as business owners than anybody else. I don’t think being gay or straight should make a difference in whether people patronize your restaurants or not. If you run a great business, and you have great food and great service, and you’re very involved in your community’s nonprofit, those are important things to me, especially in small communities.”
This post was written and recorded by Casie Wilson. Follow her on Twitter @casiedwilson