The PNC LGBT Business Award Program, sponsored by PNC Bank, will provide a $5,000 grant to one IBA member that can be used for a multitude of purposes, such as marketing or training, to enhance the growth of a local LGBT-owned small business.
The application process will launch in September and the award is expected to be handed out in the first half of next year.
Bill Gehrman, IBA president, said the new program was a natural byproduct of IBA’s growth — including a 60-percent increase in membership from this time last year — and was made possible by PNC’s support.
“We’ve been very happy with where IBA’s been going, but we’ve thinking about what our next phase could be, and the business award program rose to the top as something we thought would really directly impact our member businesses,” which now amounts to 166 local companies, he said. “We approached PNC with a few things we were thinking of doing after the new year and asked if they’d be interested in extending their partnership with us, and they loved the idea of the award program. So this came out of IBA’s board looking to our future and PNC rising to the table and stepping up for us.”
Jean Canfield, director of client and community relations at PNC, said the company was first introduced to the chamber by founding IBA board member David Huting, a PNC vice president of wealth management, and has worked closely with them since then.
“We’ve had a great relationship with IBA since they’ve been in existence since 2007. We’ve found it to be a great partnership and it’s a very well-run chamber of commerce,” Canfield said. “When they came to us with the idea for a small-business award, we thought it’d be a great next step in the evolution of our relationship with this chamber. As bankers, we understand that small business drives the economy, so an award for an LGBT small business seemed to make a lot of sense to us.”
Canfield said that while PNC has not yet made a multi-year commitment to the program, she anticipates that it will continue to fund the award beyond its inaugural year.
Gehrman noted that while the grant amount isn’t too large, it’s enough to help a small business in reaching its incremental goals and solidifying the strength of the LGBT business community.
“Running a business is complex, and there are a lot of different factors involved. I know that $5,000 isn’t a whole lot and isn’t going to change the whole way someone does business, but we’re hoping it’s an investment for a business to help them in any small way in reaching their next level of growth. Whether it’s reaching a new market or expanding the number of employees, it’s good for the entire community for us to be able to foster the economic development and growth of a business in the community.”
To apply, businesses must be IBA members from the local region who’ve been in business for at least three years. Applicants will submit a condensed version of a business plan, explaining what the money would be used for, and a committee comprised of IBA and PNC representatives, as well as individuals from a third-party educational institution, will select the winner.
In addition to the $5,000 grant, Gehrman said IBA and PNC are also evaluating the possibility of both agencies providing a slate of in-kind services to the winning business.
Also at the meeting, the IBA general membership approved the election and reelection of several new officers and members of the board of directors.
Gehrman was reelected as president, while Evan Urbania was elected as the first vice president, Richard Horrow as the second vice president and David Schellenberg as the secretary — all three of whom had previously served as officers, but in different roles. Richonda Pelzer was reelected as treasurer, and board member Jeanne McIntyre was elected as the member-at-large.
Megan Smith, J. Michael Williams, Christine Hahn-Profitt were newly elected to the board of directors, while Stuart Alter, Stephen Facenda, Brent Friedman, Conrad Kuhn, James McManaman and Schellenberg were approved for reelection.
Board members serve two-year terms.
For more information about IBA, visit www.independencebusinessalliance.com.
Jen Colletta can be reached at email@example.com.