St. Petersburg adds LGBTQ-owned businesses to small business program

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | The City Council unanimously voted to recognize LGBTQ-owned businesses in St. Petersburg’s small business enterprise (SBE) program June 6.

The program certifies SBEs for contracting and procurement opportunities in construction, professional services, goods and supplies. Working in conjunction with The Greenhouse, the city’s facility for starting and growing local business, SBEs are provided business counseling, networking and specialized assistance with access to capital and credit for startups.

The effort was led by St. Petersburg City Councilmember Gina Driscoll, a staunch LGBTQ ally and advocate for the city’s smart development and reduction of single-use plastics. Driscoll collaborated with city staff to draft the resolution the council voted on, which became effective immediately.

“Be it resolved by the City Council of the City of St. Petersburg, Florida, with the full support of Mayor Rick Kriseman and his administration,” the resolution reads, that the city “will recognize businesses which are majority (at least 51%) owned, operated and controlled by LGBTQ individuals as LGBTQ-owned businesses.”

The city will furthermore “monitor usage of LGBTQ-owned businesses in the procurement of goods and services for the City of St. Petersburg,” it continues, and “will continue to provide small businesses, including LGBTQ-owned businesses, with training programs and services to ensure businesses are familiar with how to do business with the City of St. Petersburg and are informed about procurement opportunities.”

“The city of St. Petersburg is committed to providing all business owners, including historically-underrepresented business owners, with equal opportunities to compete and succeed,” St. Petersburg LGBTQ Liaison Jim Nixon explained ahead of the vote. “We are committed to providing small businesses, including LGBTQ-owned small businesses, with training programs and services to ensure businesses are familiar with how to do business with the City of St. Petersburg and are informed about procurement opportunities. Monitoring usage of LGBTQ-owned businesses in the procurement of goods and services for the City of St. Petersburg is an important part of that commitment.”

“By adding LGBTQ businesses as its own category under the small business umbrella,” Driscoll added, “those business owners will be able to attend workshops to learn how to do business with the city and be able to register as a vendor. We’ll also be able to keep track of any contracts with those businesses for review to see how our practices are spread out across different demographics.

“By studying that,” she continued, “it helps us hold ourselves accountable as the city for making sure that we’re truly promoting an inclusive economy.”

For more information about the city’s SBE program or The Greenhouse, visit StPete.org.

Photo courtesy St Pete Pride.

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