June 29, 2022

EDA Celebrates Pride Month

Expanding on the achievements of a half-century of progress, over the last decade, the LGBTQI+ community has made significant strides in becoming more integrated into American civic life. In the U.S. Department of Commerce, as many as 7.1 percent of employees may identify as members of the LGBTQI+ community, on par with one recent estimate of the nation’s total LGBTQI+ population.

Image of a Pride Flag

While substantial achievements in a more equitable United States have been made, work remains to be done to ensure the promise of American prosperity is experienced as widely as possible. In his proclamation of May 31, President Biden called on Americans to “confront the disproportionate levels of poverty, homelessness, and unemployment in the LGBTQI+ community.”

Guided by its focus on investments that advance equity across America, the Economic Development Administration is working to strengthen the economic and social well-being of all Americans.

Working with Thrive West Central, the U.S. Economic Development Administration recently capitalized a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) that will provide critical gap financing to LGBTQI+ and other minority-owned small businesses. Among its initiatives, the Spark RLF will deploy advisors to conduct dedicated outreach to the LGBTQI+ community to empower, guide, promote, enhance, connect and grow LGBTQI+ business leaders and entrepreneurs. Prospective borrowers from underserved populations — including the LGBTQI+ community — or those that commit to employing individuals from these communities, will be prioritized when awarding loans.

Within EDA, regional staff are participating members of Commerce Pride, a strategic partner with the Department of Commerce that promotes cultural awareness and inclusion for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning employees through continual learning, networking, advocacy, and knowledge sharing.

“Pride Month is a time not just to celebrate the achievements of the LGBTQIA+ community, but also to elevate awareness of their contributions to our economic and cultural diversity,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce Alejandra Y. Castillo. “I join with all EDA staff in recognizing this vital community and its role in building a better, more inclusive, America.”