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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Executive's plan to support LGBT entrepreneurs praised by business leaders as a national model

Summary

Local and national business associations say Executive Constantine’s decision to make King County the largest county in the U.S. to track the number of contracts awarded to LGBT-owned small businesses will have a positive impact on the region’s economy, and predict other metropolitan regions across the nation will follow King County’s lead.

Story

Dow Constantine and public officials at press conference.

King County will now include an LGBT category in its directory of small businesses, making it easier for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender businesses to support one another.

King County will become a national leader in supporting LGBTQ-owned small businesses under an inclusive policy announced by Executive Dow Constantine.

King County will become the largest county in the United States to track the number of contracts that are awarded to LGBTQ entrepreneurs, an approach that has dramatically increased the number and value of contracts awarded to local small businesses owned by women, people of color, and people who are disadvantaged.

“We are once again putting King County at the national forefront of social change and justice,” said Executive Constantine. “We are stronger when we reduce barriers to opportunity so everyone can fully participate in our economy. By supporting local LGBTQ entrepreneurs, we are making progress toward a just, equitable society.”

King County will now include an LGBTQ category in its directory of small businesses, making it easier for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender businesses to support one another. Local and national business associations say the move will have a positive impact on economic activity in the region and predict that other metropolitan regions will follow King County’s lead.

Local and national business leaders see positive impact

“King County continues a long tradition of creating greater access to the American Dream for the thousands of LGBT business owners who live and work there,” said Justin Nelson, co-founder and President of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. “By offering an equal seat at the table to bid on King County contracts, we will see the same surge in the job creation, industry innovation, and contributions to the local economy that LGBTQ businesses owners have earned acclaim for across this country. King County is now committed to enhancing the visibility of its thriving LGBTQ business community.”

“Opportunity and access are key ingredients for ensuring the success of small businesses," said Louise Chernin, President and CEO of the Greater Seattle Business Association. "GSBA applauds King County for its leadership in being the first government agency in the Northwest to recognize LGBT certification so that LGBTQ businesses will now have parity in opportunity with other minority businesses in the region. By recognizing and tracking certified LGBTQ-owned businesses that apply for contracts, King County continues its longstanding commitment to equality, diversity and opportunity for all.”

“For the past couple years, the SBA has conducted LGBTQ Business Builder trainings across the U.S. to educate LGBTQ-owned small businesses about the supply chain opportunities available through LGBTQ business certification,” said Calvin Goings, Regional Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. “I commend King County for being a leader among local governments by embracing this inclusive vision of entrepreneurship. When we draw from all demographics and backgrounds, we’ll grow our economy, create good jobs, and make the Puget Sound more globally competitive.”


Impact of King County's Contract Opportunities Program

2010 2015
Number of certified small contractors More than 1,100 More than 2,300
Value of small business contracts with King County $23 million $47.3 million

Based on a highly successful model

The County’s successful Small Contractors and Suppliers program has more than doubled the number and value of contracts awarded to local small businesses since Executive Constantine took office. The number of certified small contractors has increased from just over 1,100 in 2010 to more than 2,300 last year. The value of small business contracts over that same period has increased from $23 million to $47.3 million.

Contracts are awarded to businesses that score the highest in the competitive process, regardless of race, gender or sexual identity. What King County has done is increase the number and diversity of small businesses competing for contracts by reaching out to small business owners that have historically been excluded and making the procurement process more accessible.

Now the County will expand the approach to include LGBTQ small business owners to increase visibility and create a more equitable environment. By creating a directory of LGBTQ-owned small businesses, King County will also better connect local business owners, acting as a catalyst for economic activity.

This announcement is the culmination of work that started during Executive Constantine’s first term when he committed to reforming County operations, which evolved into what is now known as the Best Run Government initiative. One of the achievements was transforming the procurement process to make it more convenient for businesses. Today, for example, small businesses can enroll in a single program to compete for contracts awarded by King County, Port of Seattle, Sound Transit and Seattle Colleges.

Largest county in the U.S. to apply this approach

With a population of more than 2.1 million residents, King County is the 13th-largest county in the United States. It will be just the second county, after Essex County in New Jersey, to track how many contracts are awarded to businesses owners who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Only two states — Massachusetts and California — include an LGBTQ category in their procurement policies.


Relevant links


Quotes

We are once again putting King County at the national forefront of social change and justice. We are stronger when we reduce barriers to opportunity so everyone can fully participate in our economy. By supporting local LGBT entrepreneurs, we are making progress toward a just, equitable society.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

I’m proud of King County’s leadership on LGBTQ issues and so pleased Executive Constantine has proposed this inclusive policy. I have fought for many years for the civil rights of the LGBTQ community, and this is another example that promoting equity and social justice and economic prosperity are not mutually exclusive, but rather mutually beneficial.

Joe McDermott, Chair of the King County Council

King County continues a long tradition of creating greater access to the American Dream for the thousands of LGBT business owners who live and work there. By offering an equal seat at the table to bid on King County contracts, we will see the same surge in the job creation, industry innovation, and contributions to the local economy that LGBT businesses owners have earned acclaim for across this country. King County is now committed to enhancing the visibility of its thriving LGBT business community.

Justin Nelson, Co-Founder and President, National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce

Opportunity and access are key ingredients for ensuring the success of small businesses. GSBA applauds King County for its leadership in being the first government agency in the Northwest to recognize LGBT certification so that LGBT businesses will now have parity in opportunity with other minority businesses in the region. By recognizing and tracking certified LGBT-owned businesses that apply for contracts, King County continues its longstanding commitment to equality, diversity and opportunity for all.

Louise Chernin, President and CEO, Greater Seattle Business Association

For the past couple years, the SBA has conducted LGBTQ Business Builder trainings across the U.S. to educate LGBTQ-owned small businesses about the supply chain opportunities available through LGBTQ business certification. I commend King County for being a leader among local governments by embracing this inclusive vision of entrepreneurship. When we draw from all demographics and backgrounds, we’ll grow our economy, create good jobs, and make the Puget Sound more globally competitive.

Calvin Goings, Regional Administrator, U.S. Small Business Association

For more information, contact:

Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography