A newly created LGBTQ+ certification program is now available to Columbus businesses through a partnership with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. 
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said the certification will help increase participation in city procurement and contracting, in addition to expanding access to networking and engagement programs. 
While Chief Diversity Officer Damita Brown said there are not specific contracts set aside for LGBTQ+ certified businesses, the city hopes to create a “sheltered market program” in which only certified businesses can compete for certain contracts.  
“Along with simply being the right thing to do, this has the potential to drive competition, generate potential savings and improve the quality of services we provide to our residents,” Ginther said. 
Columbus businesses can only be certified as an LGBTQ+ business through the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, though LGBTQ+ companies can also have women-owned and minority-owned designations. 
Business must be at least 51% owned by a member (or members) of the LGBTG+ community to qualify for this certification.
Brown anticipates the certification process will be completed within 30 days, but once certified on the national level, she anticipates business will be entered into the program on the city level within seven days.
Chris Cozad, owner of Alternative Auto Care, said the program is close to her heart, and the next step in how the city’s support of LGBTQ people.
“We are out and proud as both a woman-owned and a lesbian-owned business,” Cozad said.
Businesses can register for the program at my.nglcc.org
Brown said certification can help differentiate businesses in how they compete in the community.
By becoming an LGBTQ+ certified business, owners will have access to marketing through the city’s online portal, contracting opportunities and training, among other benefits. 
@E_SkidmoreGS
eskidmore@gannett.com

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