SBA restores website for LGBT-owned businesses

The Small Business Administration is coming under fire for shutting down a website that provided resources for LGBT entrepreneurs.
Photo by Michael Shain
By Naeisha Rose

Linda McMahon, the head of the Small Business Administration, has stayed true to the organization’s promise to reinstate the LGBT Outreach page on the SBA website

The restoration of the website Wednesday came days after U.S. Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) and Nydia Velázquez (D-Brooklyn), whose district covers parts of Ridgewood and Woodhaven, wrote a letter to McMahon demanding that the page go back up after being shut down on Jan. 25, 2017, which was shortly after the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

The letter came on the heels of McMahon’s media blitz, which started earlier this week, to visit small businesses across the country and address issues entrepreneurs were facing across the country.

Clarke and Velázquez, who is the ranking member of the House Small Business Committee, criticized the SBA in their joint letter for scrubbing the web page of the website for over a year.

“Erasing these resources from SBA’s website shortchanges gay, lesbian and transgender Americans who happen to be among our nation’s most successful small business owners,” said Velázquez. “The fact that this move took place shortly after Donald Trump came into office raises troubling concerns and, as the Committee of jurisdiction, we intend to get to the bottom of how this happened and see the situation rectified, quickly.”

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender entrepreneurs contribute $1.7 trillion to the United States economy and have created more than 33,000 jobs, according to the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

When the web page was closed following Trump’s January 2017 inauguration, the Democratic staff of the House Committee on Small Business pressed the SBA over the disappearance in August 2017, only to be told it was being fixed, but since then other web pages have been reinstated.

“SBA is an inclusive agency, proud to support all small businesses including the LGBT community,” said an SBA spokesman.

Not only did the letter condemn the SBA, it also highlighted the contributions of LGBT businesses, and requested a May 22 response from the administration about the lengthy webpage reconstruction.

“As you may know, [of] the nation’s nearly 28 million small businesses, only 964 are certified LGBT Business Enterprises, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce,” the congresswomen said. “Despite their low numbers, these firms contribute over $1.1 billion to the U.S. economy and realize an average of $2.5 million in revenue each year – almost triple that of other small firms.”

The lawmakers also stressed that on average, small LGBT businesses have tended to outlive other small businesses by three times. While most start-ups close before their fourth year, LGBT businesses have lasted over 12 years.

The congresswomen were pleased the webpage has been reinstated, but were still requesting answers to why LGBT entrepreneurs had to go without resources from the federal government for over a year, and hope that this asset does not get used as a political tool again.

“It is important that all federal agencies are inclusive and work proactively to serve the needs of all Americans.”

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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