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    Building a More Successful LGBT Business Community

    1-PHOTO-JasonHolsteinGGBA-Headshot-Holstein2013largeAs Golden Gate Business Association’s recently hired Managing Director, I am humbled to stand on the shoulders of giants. GGBA has played an important role in shaping the conversation around LGBT equality as the nation’s first LGBT business organization and one of the first LGBT organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    Many have asked me, “Why relocate from Orlando, Florida, to the Bay Area, when the right to marry has been secured for same-sex couples? What else is there to fight for?”

    My response to those friends is that marriage equality in California has given us the right to live, but it hasn’t given us the right or the opportunity to thrive. For employees and business owners, discrimination still takes place and there is much more work to do.

    One of the initiatives that GGBA advocates for is the inclusion of LGBT-owned businesses in the supply chains of major corporations, as well as local, state, and federal agencies. It’s one thing for these companies and agencies to provide workplace benefits for LGBT employees, marketing to LGBT customers, and support for LGBT non-profits; but it’s a completely different level of commitment for these organizations to not only BE gay friendly, but to also BUY gay friendly.

    The playing field is evened when corporations and government agencies, both large and small, determine not to discriminate against businesses based upon the business owner’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Their outreach efforts help to bring more LGBT businesses in to bid on these contracts.

    These opportunities help to build a more successful LGBT business community, which in turn can better support the retail businesses and non-profits in the region. As competent and capable LGBT businesses procure new corporate and government contracts, their growth allows these LGBT businesses to hire more staff and contract with other LGBT & Allied businesses to provide secondary services.

    Two historic events are taking place in the next few weeks for the LGBT business community. On Thursday September 26, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority will hold the first California General Services LGBT business outreach event. This agency was responsible for building the Transbay Center, which some have called the “Grand Central Terminal of the West.”

    On Thursday October 10, PG&E will become one of the first public utilities in the nation to hold an LGBT business outreach event. PG&E will provide LGBT businesses with technical assistance training on how to do business with PG&E, focusing on helping these companies prepare to compete in a changing supply chain.

    These two events are targeted to LGBT architecture and engineering companies, LGBT construction/trade companies, and LGBT-owned businesses in professional services. While both events are free to attend and open to the public, pre-registration is recommended as space is limited.

    GGBA is committed to bringing increased opportunity and access for LGBT business owners by connecting them with the right corporate decision makers. This is our opportunity to stand up, stand out, and be counted in business.

    Jason Holstein is the Managing Director for the Golden Gate Business Association. In 2012, Holstein was recognized as an Emerging LGBT Leader by the White House Office of Public Engagement for his work with Orlando’s LGBT business community.


    • TJPA LGBT Business Outreach Event
    Thursday September 26, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
    175 Beale Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
    RSVP to:

    PG&E LGBT Business Outreach Event
    Thursday October 10, 9-12 p.m.
    851 Howard Street,
    San Francisco, CA, 94103
    RSVP to: |