It’s been more than a year in the planning, but the new Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MAGLCC) is finally a reality in Kansas City. Their kickoff party will be May 31 at the offices of Bishop-McCann, 1701 Walnut St. in Kansas City, Mo.
Camp first covered the chamber in our June 2011 Pride issue with the story “Pride in our Businesses” (www.campkc.com/campkc-content.php?Page_ID=1657). Since then, the group has been busy forming an executive board and talking to corporate sponsors. We recently sat down to talk to Dan Nilsen, CEO of Bishop-McCann and president of the MAGLCC, and Michael Lintecum, president of Lintecum & Associates and interim executive director of MAGLCC.
The new chamber’s mission is “to advocate, promote and facilitate the success of the LGBT business community and their allies through the guiding principles of equality, inclusion, economics and education.”
Nilsen was awarded the 2010 NGLCC/Wells Fargo Business Owner of the Year award in November 2010. He and the two finalists were recognized that month at the NGLCC National Dinner: An Evening of Courage at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The NGLCC website explains the criteria: “Award recipients were selected from a nationwide pool of applicants and were evaluated based on their companies’ business performance, innovation, growth and personal service to the community. The winner will also receive a cash grant of $5,000.”
Nilsen said that although the NGLCC certifies LGBT-owned businesses and does a site visit, he has been trained to do so in Kansas City and soon will have five others equally trained. Nilsen said that certification takes on its own challenge in the fact that the LGBT community is not a “visibly recognized” minority.
“Because you go through this rigorous process, there are several redundancies set up to make sure that the business is truly owned by an LGBT member of the community. So when a corporation adds LGBT-owned businesses as part of their supplier diversity program, like they’ll have women-owned or minority-owned and then they’ll have NGLCC-certified. That gives us sort of a level of credibility. Hallmark has come on as our first founding corporate partner, and we are considered a minority chamber — which is huge.”
Nilsen said that although this certification doesn’t guarantee winning a contract, it could help when bidding against another company if a supplier wants to do business with a minority-owned company as part of their corporate mandate.
“I don’t think there are any companies in Kansas City that add LGBT-owned business as part of their supplier diversity program,” Nilsen said. Now, he said, they could through MAGLCC. “That’s what we’re working on.”
Lintecum gave an example of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index awards and how working with MAGLCC will be good for corporations receiving those awards.
“They raise the bar every year for companies to be able to get 100” in the CEI scoring, said Nilsen. “They do three of the five categories within this one area of community support, and one of them is supporting an organization like ours.”
“That’s another reason,” said Lintecum, when speaking of why companies would want to become members of MAGLCC. Membership is open to LGBT companies and straight allies, but certification is only open to companies that are at least 51 percent LGBT-owned.
MAGLCC offers other reasons for membership, including:
• Creation of a level playing field for LGBT-owned businesses.
• Assistance in lobbying efforts for LGBT-owned businesses and causes.
• Sharing of best practices for inclusion.
• A catalyst for supplier diversity certification.
• Business referrals.
• Online business directory.
• Discount program.
• Career development.
• LGBT C-Level mentoring program.
• MAGLCC business conference.
• Access to the NGLCC.
“Our long-term hope is that we will become a resource regionally,” Lintecum said.
They said they would like to serve a five-state region — Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. The NGLCC website shows multiple affiliate member cities in 28 states and the District of Columbia. The St. Louis, Mo., affiliate is the Gateway Business Guild. Both Nilsen and Lintecum emphasized the importance of companies joining the local MAGLCC for the benefits they will automatically get in the NGLCC.
“Once you pay your local dues, national will waive the certification fees for two years,” Nilsen said.
Annual membership fees begin with a Business Basic membership at $295, then go up to the Business Plus membership of $495, Executive membership of $1,000, President’s Circle membership of $2,500, Chairman’s Circle membership of $5,000 and Chairman’s Plus Partner membership of $10,000. There will also be a Not for Profit and Government Agency membership of $295. The benefits of each of these memberships will be available on the chamber’s website (www.maglcc.org) and at the kickoff party.
“We have every hope our website will be up and running by our kickoff,” Lintecum said.
Their board is in place. In addition to Nilsen and Lintecum, it includes community and business leaders Kevin Bryant, Jim Harrington, Michael Hopkins, Catherine Kelly, Steve Metzler, Lance Pierce, Greg Porter, Josh Strodtman and Danny Zaslavsky.
They will be sending out invitations to the kickoff to their own lists, but Nilsen said the event is not exclusive.
“It’s certainly open to anyone who would like to come.”
Lintecum said, “One of the important things of that night is that we are really … kicking off the actual selling of memberships. It’s our first night of actually getting out the word. Dan has had some fabulous meetings with major corporations, and we’ve talked to a number of people in the past four or five months, but this is really our effort to kick off our membership drive. We’re out for business!”
For more information, MAGLCC can be reached through its website at www.maglcc.org.
Save the Date
Mid-America Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Kick-Off Reception
Thursday, May 31
1701 Walnut St.
Kansas City, Mo.
Featuring special guests: Donald J. Hall Jr., president & CEO of Hallmark, representing the first founding corporate partner; Justin G. Nelson, co-founder and president of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce; and other leaders from the Kansas City business community.
To RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org