Harmony, an association of LGBTQ and allied entrepreneurs in the Triangle, hopes to create the nation’s first LGBT+-focused business incubator. And it is progressing.
At the end of June, group presented Seen: An LGBT+ Coworking Community, a space where LGBT+ business owners can get financial support and training to grow their companies.
Seen is slated to launch at Harmony’s office in a warehouse district in downtown Raleigh before moving the incubator to its own space, complete with meeting rooms, artist studios, event space and two retail areas for new businesses to try selling their products and services before than to make the leap into buying commercial space.
The need for a dedicated LGBT+ incubator stems from social prejudice, said Harmony Board President Kade Kimber.
“Lending, leasing, basically any resource that a non-LGBT business owner has access to is statistically different for LGBT people,” he said.
Research shows a higher percentage of LGBTQ individuals have been rejected by family members at some point in their lives than non-LGBT individuals. This can include financial disconnects during college, which can lead to more debt in adulthood.
Kimber notes that the financial hurdles are even tougher for LGBT+ entrepreneurs of color.
“Our goal is to centralize organizations within the community as much as possible in one space,” he said. “Thus, we are going to provide the first lease terms for office space to LGBT+ organizations.”
Harmony, which lists 63 area businesses in its online directory, hopes to raise $350,000 to launch Seen. So far, Kimber said, the company has raised about $75,000, including from its first corporate sponsor, Advance Auto Parts. The Raleigh-based auto parts company has pledged $15,000 to the project in 2022 and 2023. first reported by the Triangle Business Journal.
This story was produced with funding from a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh’s Independent Journalism Grant Program. N&O maintains full editorial control over the work.
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Seen LGBTQ+ incubator, co-working space in Raleigh, North Carolina
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