Yahoo Finance's Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi speak with National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, SVP Jonathan D. Lovitz, about the economic impact of the virtual celebrations of the 50th annual pride month.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOUROS: COVID-19 has forced a number of events to be pushed back or canceled. But for the 50th anniversary of the Pride March, many pride celebrations have continued on, going virtual, of course, this year. Joining us now to discuss the economic impact of this is Jonathan Lovitz, senior vise president of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
Jonathan, good to see you. You know, arguably, the fact that a lot of these events are going to be virtual means more people can see them and participate. But what does it mean on the ground for the economies of the cities and states that we're going to be hosting these events.
JONATHAN D LOVITZ: Great to see you. Happy pride. Yeah, absolutely right. That is such an important point, that having these pride celebrations be virtual, pride inside, as so many people are calling them, does mean that more LGBT youth, more LGBT seniors, more people with different abilities who maybe have not been able to access pride celebrations, particularly digital learning experiences, are going to get to see what makes this community so special from wherever they are in the course of this recovery.
But you're right, the economic impacts are massive. So everyone's aware, LGBT businesses in the United States, all 1.4 million of them, contribute over $1.7 trillion to the US economy every year. And just like every other major economic force in this country, we've taken a major hit due to both COVID-19 and the supply chain implications of what happened ever since.
So we are seeing so many great LGBT-owned businesses that do power our economy pivot in ways that are not only helping power virtual prides like supplying the digital tech that's needed to run them, creating pride kits that people can celebrate at home or in their offices with swag that is purchased from the community, for example. We're also seeing them pivot to ways that are helping people enjoy pride and the entire thing safely, like the great lesbian-owned distillery in the DC area that we work with that has converted several of her stills to creating hospital sanitizer and hand cleaner.
So there are a lot of different companies out there doing things that are not only going to make pride safer but our whole economic recovery better and keep money flowing into the LGBT economy in this country.
BRIAN SOZZI: Jonathan what have you been hearing from the LGBT business owners the past three months? It's been challenging times for many small business owners because of the coronavirus pandemic.
JONATHAN D LOVITZ: You know, and so many things in the LGBT community always feels like we're quoting it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. We are in the midst of one of the largest upswings of certifications of LGBT-owned business enterprises in the country. We are seeing greater investment from corporations and funding than ever before.
And yet, like every other small business community, LGBT-owned companies are hurting. But thankfully, they are utilizing both PPP. They're using private loans. They're using bridge capital, whatever is needed to keep their employees on and that their companies are strong and serving the communities where they live. And particularly important because remember LGBT-owned businesses-- LGBT people in America aren't monolithic.
We are women. We are people of color. We have disabilities. We are veterans. We are immigrants. We are every community that has always and will always make this economy and this nation great. So helping LGBT businesses recover through this crisis is in fact helping the entire country do better.
So people are scared. They are recovering. And they're taking good care of one another, making sure they share resources and opportunity with the entire community.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOUROS: Jonathan, but the LGBT small business community, are they facing different or unique challenges versus other small businesses during this pandemic?
JONATHAN D LOVITZ: Such a great question because, you know, we're all still-- you know, today, June 26 is marriage equality day. So we are reminiscing on one of our favorite historic moments in LGBT and really in American history just a week after the Supreme Court decision affirming that we are protected in our workplaces. But that does raise the question, well, what's still to be done.
And to your point about helping business owners in this recovery, yes, we are affected differently because as we know, whether it's in the course of the COVID recovery or any other type of small business situation, access to capital is every entrepreneur's number one need. And yet in 36 states in this country, it is perfectly legal for a branch manager or a loan officer to say we do not give money to your kind because there's no law that says we have to. That's why we need the Equality Act passed to make sure that your zip code doesn't dictate how successful your business is and how safe your family is. So there is a major economic component to full civil rights for the LGBT community in this country.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOUROS: All right, we're going to leave it there. Jonathan Lovitz, national LGBT Chamber of Commerce senior vice president. Good to have you here. And happy pride day.
JONATHAN D LOVITZ: Happy pride. See you again soon.