LGBTQ Businesses Awarded COVID-19 Recovery Grants
National LGBT Chamber of Commerce awarded grants to Wisconsin businesses ranging from $5,000 to $10,000.
The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) closed out pride month in a generous way Thursday afternoon, distributing more than $100,000 in grants to Wisconsin LGBTQ-owned and ally-owned businesses.
In partnership with Grubhub, NGLCC presented 17 Wisconsin businesses with grants ranging from $5,000 to $10,000.
“It’s quite an honor to be chosen for the grant,” said BJ Gruling, co-owner at Glendale’s Kilwins Milwaukee-Bayshore, which also received $10,000. “And I felt that they realized there’s lots of small businesses, LGBT owned businesses, that are still being affected by the pandemic, and everything else going on in the world, including inflation.”
Gruling co-owns the Bayshore Kilwins location, part of a nationwide franchise, with Rick Clark. The business is a nationally certified LGBT-owned business through NGLCC and has been a member of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce since its 2014 opening.
The event, held at Hamburger Mary’s, was one stop on NGLCC’s multi-state tour to distribute grants and celebrate LGBTQ business resiliency, Nelson said.
NGLCC raised $2.1 million last year. The organization is using $1.5 million to fund grants for businesses hit hardest by the pandemic. Of the remaining funds, affiliate chambers received $350,000.
In June 2021, NGLCC was the official partner of Grubhub’s Donate the Change, which invites Grubhub and Seamless users to round up their total to the nearest dollar and donate the difference.
The national chamber has also allocated money to cover one year of Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce membership for businesses that aren’t yet involved in the organization.
Justin Nelson, NGLCC co-founder and president, urged business members to take the opportunity.
“You will find your tribe, your new customers, your returning customers, by being a part of this amazing organization,” he said.
The grant program is renewed for at least a second year, and Nelson said business owners are encouraged to re-apply for the needs-based funding.
The Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce will hold its “Out in the Kitchen” event July 19 at Discovery World, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Chamber members including MOXIE Food & Drink, Kilwins Milwaukee-Bayshore and Company Brewing will be serving food and drinks. Tickets cover one drink and unlimited food samples. The price is $25 until July 8 and $35 from July 9 until the event.
Correction: In error, Sabrosa Café and Gallery was left out of the original story as a Milwaukee business that received a $10,000 grant.
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