(New York, NY) — New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, in partnership with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and the USBLN (U.S. Business Leadership Network), today hosted a roundtable discussion to highlight issues facing small businesses owned by LGBTQ New Yorkers and people with disabilities. This roundtable — which included more than a dozen small business owners — discussed solutions including expanding the City’s Emerging Business Enterprise program to help additional groups, like LGBTQ business owners and those with disabilities, access City programs.

“Small businesses are the economic engines of our neighborhoods — and if we want to have a fair economy tomorrow, then we need to support them today. We need to empower every City resident — not just some — to thrive. That means we need to do more to support LGTBQ companies, business owners with disabilities, and more,” New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said. “We have a moral and an economic imperative to give all small business owners — no matter who they are or who they love — a fair shot to bid on City contracts. We’ve elevated the conversation on M/WBEs, and the same needs to happen for any business owner facing challenges. It’s about fairness, it’s about wealth creation, and it’s about keeping New York on top today — and tomorrow.”

“People with disabilities are almost twice as likely as people without disabilities to be self-employed,” said Jill Houghton, President and CEO of USBLN. “Expanding the Emerging Business Enterprise program to include NYC entrepreneurs with disabilities is crucial as disability crosses all diverse segments. There is untapped NYC talent with USBLN certified disability-owned businesses and LGBT Business Enterprises.”

“America’s estimated 1.4 million LGBT business owners add over $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy every year, while creating tens of thousands of jobs.  By offering these industry innovating, tax revenue generating LGBT business owners an equal seat at the opportunity table, New York City has the power to truly become the most inclusive place to do business in America,” said NGLCC Co-Founder & President Justin Nelson.  “This is New York City’s chance to be a national leader joining states like California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, major counties and municipalities, and over 1/3 of the Fortune 500 who recognize NGLCC’s LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) certification and enable LGBT business owners to thrive.”

Today’s roundtable, which included representatives from the Department of Small Business Services and Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, highlighted the steep barriers faced by LGBTQ business owners and New Yorkers with disabilities who are unable to fully take advantage of the City’s current minority- and women-owned business enterprise (M/WBE) programs. During the discussion, Comptroller Stringer proposed expanding the City’s Emerging Business Enterprises program, which was designed to promote fairness and equity in City contracting. To date, this program has only certified seven businesses across the City — and only two of those seven have received City spending.