CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Business Guild has been named a local affiliate of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
The move gives the local organization and its members access to a variety of business resources and advocacy offered by the national chamber, including the national Supplier Diversity Initiative and a national LGBT Business Enterprise certification, which provides businesses that are at least 51 percent owned by LGBT people access to supply chain and contracting opportunities.
In a release, Charlotte Business Guild President Chad Sevearance said the group’s decision to join the national body reflected its “obligation to its professionals, businesses and collegiate membership in providing the most strategic partnerships available.”
He added, “The decisions that we make on an executive and board level as an organization can greatly impact our membership, and that is why we have chosen to seek affiliation with the NGLCC. Success and greater visibility within our progressive Charlotte community will allow the LGBT professionals, business owners and allies to have a seat at the table, and most importantly a voice.”
Justin Nelson, president and co-founder of the chamber, said that he was proud to add the Guild to its network of chambers and looked forward to working together.
“We are proud to add the Charlotte Business Guild to our network of chambers and congratulate their board of directors on this bold and powerful step to bring LGBT entrepreneurs and business owners to the forefront of the Charlotte economy and to connect their local Guild to this powerful movement for economic equality. We look forward to working together,” Nelson said in the release.
Representatives from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce will join the guild at the March 25 meeting at the Belk Action Center, 330 S. Tryon St., to make the presentation. Bob Morgan, CEO and president of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce will be the keynote speaker. The event starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10/members, $15/non-members.
In other news, the guild voted in February to establish its Aspiring Professionals Initiative, an internship and mentorship program.
Its purpose is to identify LGBT students and entrepreneurs and to match them with business members and professionals of the Guild. It will connect Charlotte area students with professionals of various fields and backgrounds to develop professional skills in an LGBT-friendly workspace. Internships are 13 weeks in length.
Guild members will provide guidance and development opportunities to promising leaders accepted into this program. Mentorships will provide personal guidance from a business owner or professional in the student’s field of interest. Internships focus on professional development through hands on experience in the field of interest.
Short-term goals are to build a program that’s respectable and sustainable for Guild members and collegiate chapters, such as Charlotte’s Spectrum, Severance commented.
Lee Ziglar and Cameron Joyce, both students at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and collegiate members of the guild, serve as co-chairs. Natasha Tutt and Severance serve as liaisons.
Pairings are handled through an application process. Upon receipt, a committee of three that will complete selections prior to each 13-week internship. Applicants will be required to go through an interview on both sides in order to make a good match. Students are asked to submit a resume, application and an essay for consideration.
For more information about becoming an intern or if one is a business or professional interested in participating in the program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Ed. Note — The original version of this article erroneously called the Aspiring Professionals Initiative the “Aspiring Leaders Initiative.” We have updated the name and regret the error.]