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Supplier Diversity and Business Certification

Many corporations and other organizations make a commitment to enhancing Supplier Diversity as a way to increase the supplier base, improve service and quality levels, reduce the cost of purchasing and promote the participation of minority-owned businesses. Traditionally, these businesses have been racial minority-owned enterprises (MBEs) and women-owned business enterprises (WBEs). But in recent years, more organizations have expanded the definition to include LGBT-owned businesses (LGBTBEs), veteran-owned and disabled-owned companies even though these are not federally recognized protected classes. These companies must be 51% owned, controlled and managed by persons who are part of these diverse groups. Business certification is the primary way that diverse suppliers can access opportunities in supply chains. Certification is an important tool that can serve as a critical point of differentiation between your business and your competitors.

Plexus encourages LGBT-owned businesses to gain certifications as a step to build relationships and growth with corporations, municipalities, state agencies, and many other entities.

LGBT Owned Business Enterprise (LGBT-BE)

The National Gay/Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the sole certifying body for LGBT businesses, developed their certification process in 2004 with the guidance from the two most prominent certification organizations: Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC).

Because Plexus is an affiliate of NGLCC, members of Plexus can apply for certification without a fee (a $400 savings). Learn more the process of becoming LGBT-BE by reviewing these frequently asked questions. Certification can be achieved through four steps:

  • Visit NGLCC.org to complete the online application process. Build your business profile and submit supporting documentation to verify your eligibility for certification.
  • After your application is complete, NGLCC and Plexus will schedule a convenient date/time with you to verify information at a site visit.
  • Your application will be reviewed by the National Certification Committee.
  • After confirmation of your approval, participate in an LGBT-BE orientation webinar to learn how to leverage the resources of this certification.

Plexus compiled a toolkit to guide you through the NGLCC process and we have many experienced business owners who can offer insight. Contact president@thinkplexus.org if you have questions or need assistance.

City of Cleveland LGBT Owned Business Registry

In April 2014, the City of Cleveland, in collaboration with Plexus, launched the LGBT owned business registry as a way to provide access to contracts and bids in a seven county market. The business must be based in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage or Summit counties (defined as the "Cleveland Buying Market") and be 51% owned by LGBT individual(s). In addition, the registry provides an opportunity to track economic development in the LGBT business segment.

Plexus compiled a toolkit to assist with the registration process. To get started, review this information packet. Plexus has many experienced business owners who can offer insight. Contact president@thinkplexus.org if you have questions or need assistance.

Other Certification Opportunities

Cuyahoga County Small Business Enterprise

Women-owned Business Enterprise

Minority-owned Business Enterprise

Small Business Administration | HUBZone Certification

Small Business Administration | Veteran and Service Disabled Veteran Certification

Small Business Administration | 8(a) Business Development Program