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Embracing the entrepreneur in all

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Today, there are more than 1.4 million lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) owned small businesses in the United States. These businesses play an important role in our economy and our communities.

And, $790 billion was the estimated buying power of the LGBT population in 2012. This was a 20 percent increase in the buying power of the LGBT community from 2006-2012.

As a nation, we proudly recognized June as LGBT Pride Month. This year’s theme was “Reflections of Pride — Stonewall 45,” and commemorated the 45th anniversary of the events at Stonewall Inn and a movement to demand dignity and equality under the law for LGBT and all Americans.

As stated in President Obama’s proclamation: As progress spreads from state to state, as justice is delivered in the courtroom, and as more of our fellow Americans are treated with dignity and respect — our nation becomes not only more accepting, but more equal as well. With LGBT Pride Month, we celebrate victories that have affirmed freedom and fairness, and we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains.

At the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), we are working with the LGBT community to spur entrepreneurial activity and to ensure that more LGBT entrepreneurs have the tools and the resources they need to grow successful small businesses and create good jobs.

All across the country we are building on these efforts. We are working closely with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) to ensure that more LGBT-owned businesses have access to SBA programs and services. We recently hosted the first-ever LGBT procurement event, with the U.S. Department of Commerce and 13 agencies, so that businesses can better identify and compete for government contracts

And, the SBA continues to support the LGBT small business community through educational outreach initiatives such as “Many Faces, One Dream,” which promotes economic empowerment and encourages entrepreneurship within the LGBT community.

America’s small businesses are the engine of our economy. They create two out of three net new private sector jobs. And, today, half of all working Americans either own or work for a small business.

By embracing an inclusive vision of entrepreneurship, one that draws entrepreneurs from all communities, from all demographics and from all backgrounds, we will grow our economy, create good jobs and make America even more globally competitive.

During LGBT Pride Month, we were reminded that America benefits when we draw from the entire spectrum of American diversity — driving innovation and creating a thriving economy in our communities and across our nation. Together, we can remember an important chapter in this nation’s fight for equality and celebrate our commitment to a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Calvin Goings is the regional administrator for the Small Business Administration.