Photo by Peter Hershey on Unsplash

The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (LAGLCC) will host this year’s annual Western Business Alliance (WBA) LGBT Economic Summit & Conference on March 14-16.

The WBA was founded in 1992 to further LGBT economic equality by sharing the collective knowledge from over 3,000 businesses which are members of other LGBT chambers.

Marquita Thomas, a  longtime West Hollywood resident, is Executive Director of the LAGLCC which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The chamber was formed at that time when LGBT businesses, like bars, were harassed. Now, attitudes have changed but LGBT-owned businesses still need support not only from the chamber but from other business owners with the same values as well.

There will be a conference on “Understanding and Improving the Effectiveness of Supplier Diversity,” to look at ways to increase opportunities for businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, LGBTs, the disabled and others who have been generally underutilized as suppliers.  Attendees will learn “to assess whether or not their business is ready for government and corporate contracts, find out resources available for capacity-building, and avoid pitfalls.”

Thomas said that according to the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), 80% of “about 1.4 million LGBT-owned business in the U.S.” would like the chance to be government contractors or suppliers but less than 10% of NGLCC-certified businesses have been successful. 

Thomas also said that one of the benefits of holding summits is that many innovative ideas and practices usually result from WBA groupthink efforts.

The topics in this year’s  Break-Out Session include freelancing, transgender entrepreneurship, niche marketing to millennials and fostering corporate and social responsibility. The WBA has 21-city and 11-state memberships.