Houston is taking more steps to be more inclusive, and we’re setting a path for the rest of the state. On March 4 Mayor Sylvester Turner signed an executive order that calls for the inclusion of Houston’s certified LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBE) in the pool of certified companies that city contractors and businesses choose from to participate in municipal projects—equal opportunity in action.

The executive order, which has been in the works since 2016—and is also known by its fancy name Executive Order 1-70: City Inclusion and Opportunity Initiative for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Business Community—helps the city with its goal of being more equal and inclusive when it comes to its contracting and procurement opportunities, while letting the world know that Houston supports its LGBTQ community. In fact, the executive order is the first of its kind in the state of Texas. It comes months after Houston passed an affirmative-action program that gave the city a goal of directing 30 percent of county projects to local Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBE), and now, LGBT business enterprises will be included in that program.

“The City of Houston has always been committed to providing fair and equal access to economic and contracting opportunities to all eligible businesses—and we are proud to formally memorialize this commitment to the LGBT community,” Turner said in a press release Thursday.

The city’s Office of Business Opportunity will oversee the historic initiative that will also provide “procurement opportunities” for the Houston LGBTBEs by equipping them with a toolbox of education, mentorship, and networking opportunities through the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce and the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC).

This definitely is a win for Houston LGBTBE members like Nick Wolny, for example. Wolny, who owns and operates a content marketing agency, Hefty Media Group, which has been LGBTBE-certified for over a year now, says the executive order will help marginalized people in the Houston business community for years to come.

“I think that [the executive order] opens the door for us to ‘play’ in more corporate spaces than we previously were able to,” Wolny tells Houstonia. “But now to know that we can strike up relationships with some of these large organizations, like Exxon and Chevron, and to know now that there is more of an initiative to bring these diversity suppliers into the picture, very well means more business opportunities, and it’s very exciting.”

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