It is commonly thought that the biggest benefit one can get from a chamber of commerce is the opportunity to network. However, a chamber offers so much more than just the opportunity to make connections. Advocacy, education, and economic development are always at the forefront of our strategy for small businesses, corporate partners and professionals.
As we mark the one-year anniversary of our decision to move toward temporary virtual programming as a chamber, I am reminded of what work is most important to our members and community. The agility and demonstration of care that our team fostered while contacting members, partners and community members to check-in and determine what the overall needs were was second to none. Unique to the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce, was our ability to quickly react and be available to guide chamber and community members through the arduous process of applying for loans, grants and access to PPE.
- Began a rapid response outreach effort to identify specific business needs.
- Called every small business member to connect with them personally.
- Built and continue to maintain a resource repository with information on grants and loans, restrictions, guidelines and where to locally source necessary pandemic response supplies on www.supportCLT.com.
- Took on new initiatives to promote local businesses, such as our “SpendLGBT.com” list of small businesses and nonprofits, in addition to adapting existing chamber events to a virtual setting to ensure safety and accessibility.
- We clarified the CARES Act and supported businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program alongside the City of Charlotte and Charlotte Small Business Coalition.
- We published an exhaustive manual of best practices for industries within the Charlotte region at no cost to small businesses and nonprofits on www.readyCLT.com.
- We advocated on our members’ behalf for policies that would support vulnerable businesses. Some of these policies focused on providing access to funding, assistance with utilities, eviction moratoriums, common sense restrictions on capacity and hours of business and much more.
Our work is far from over, and many of the actions I have listed above are representative of our ongoing efforts. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for your continued support and engagement in the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
One more thing: We broke a monthly record in February by adding more than 15 new members, 3 corporate partners and certifying eight LGBT owned businesses! Our team announced that Brand Inclusive was a recipient of TIAA’s scholarship to Tuck University’s Business Diversity Program and we have officially opened our offices in Southend.
As we close the first quarter of this most pivotal year, we anticipate what new challenges await us. One thing is for sure, whatever adversity we face in the future, the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce is ready to seek every opportunity to support your business, workplace, and marketplace. With our community, we will continue to stand strong, show courage, and persevere.
Chad Turner, President & CEO