CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After a quarter-century serving the LGBT business community, the Charlotte Business Guild (CBG) Board of Directors has announced that it is changing its name to the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce and rebranding itself to comply with today’s world.
In a release, the organization said that “coming out of the closet is good for business.” To that end, its new operational model has shifted from a more closeted and guarded association to one that gives “Charlotte professionals and the business community a chance to see what they are all about.”
In 1992 the founding members of the CBG created an organization where they, as business owners and professionals, could network and socialize, the organization shared. The name was like many other LGBT business organizations across the country, giving credence to the idea of a business and networking organization, but masking the identity of those who were members. Now 23 years later, the organization has tripled in size, boasting corporate sponsors, straight ally businesses and professionals, as well as a range of other community partners within its membership, they added.
Under the leadership of its current president, Chad Turner, the CBG became an affiliate of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and renewed its relationship as a Diversity Partner of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.
“The more than 50 LGBT chambers across the nation have quickly begun to realize the value of placement among other minority chambers in the major cities we serve,” said Turner. “We must embrace who we are and allow others to realize what market we represent. When a corporation or company makes a commitment to sponsor or join as a member, they want the full value of being a part of an organization that is proud of and deliberate in its mission for economic empowerment and equality within the city it serves.”
Currently, of the 52 national organizations aligned under the NGLCC, only two groups have used the name guild — the Gateway Business Guild and the CBG. In contrast, nine use LGBT chamber of commerce and 16 use the name lesbian and gay chamber.
NGLCC President and Co-Founder Justin Nelson applauded the name change. “All of us at NGLCC, America’s LGBT Chamber, are excited to celebrate this new beginning. This change shows an enhanced commitment to LGBT-owned businesses in the community and clarifies their identity as an LGBT organization. As their national partner, we look forward to working with the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce to advance economic equality for all LGBT people and their allies in Charlotte,” he said.
On a local level, the name change will align the organization with the other five minority chambers of commerce that make up the Diversity Council for the Charlotte Chamber.
“The growing diversity of Charlotte’s population is a competitive advantage in attracting jobs and investment. We have been proud partners of the Charlotte Business Guild for nearly a decade and look forward to continuing that partnership with the new Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce for many years to come in the future,” said Bob Morgan, Charlotte Chamber CEO and president.
“It is remarkable to see Charlotte grow, not only in the sector of business and opportunity, but also within the Latin American, Asian, French and Black communities. By having local chambers focus on minority business issues, [such as] with the support of the Charlotte Chamber, [it] is a progressive step toward greater success and positive growth. The importance of these organizations will only become more evident as our city continues to thrive in the years ahead.” Turner added.
Over recent years, the organization has expanded its member services to include LGBT Business Enterprise certification, a mobile app, has been engaged in compiling a business equality index, expanded its business expo, created regular seminar meetings with professionals who share tips on such things as image, finances, etc., as well as increasing visibility for its annual gala and awards event. Its membership benefits from local and national discounts on goods and services, among others. The organization also supports diversity among its members and its board, reflecting the broad landscape of those it serves. To learn more, visit clgbtcc.org.
A press conference to announce the change was held on Oct. 22 at the Charlotte Chamber, 330 S. Tryon St. The naming was done in memory of long-time advocate and ally Barbara Green, owner of Sensibly Chic, who died unexpectedly during the week of the announcement. As the organization transitions into the newly branded face, the formal announcement is expected to coincide with the Dec. 9 CLGBTCC annual meeting and holiday party. qnotes will provide updates to the announcement as they become available.
— staff compiled and releases