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For the first time ever Major League Baseball is announcing a partnership with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) to help certified businesses become official suppliers for the MLB.

In recent years, Major League Baseball has worked to make baseball a more inclusive game. The league named former outfielder Billy Bean as its Ambassador for Inclusion in 2014, and is now taking further steps to strengthen its relationship with the LGBT community.

Bean was a key part of the two sides coming together. He worked with the NGLCC to help create the partnership.

“We’re looking forward to them helping us promote the initiatives that we have,” he said. “It’s important to me because I think it allows our community to get more coverage and exposure on the programs that business owners are working very, very hard to expand.

“The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is such a well-respected organisation, and for them to feel that what they see in baseball is something they would want to align with, it’s a compliment for the work that we’re doing.”

Announcement of the partnership comes ahead of the MLB’s summit on diversity in business today (8 and 9 March) in Phoenix, Arizona – which will hold panel discussions about the partnership and the League’s belief in promoting diversity and inclusion.

“We take great pride in the fact that this not only puts us closer to Major League Baseball and the ability to bring innovative suppliers to their operation, but also that we get to work with incredible advocates and athletes like Billy Bean,” Justin Nelson, founder and president of the NGLCC, told Fortune.

A small business must meet certain criteria to be eligible for NGLCC certification to be able to work with the MLB in the new partnership. “We work with over a third of the Fortune 500 right now,” Nelson continued. “A business that is 51% owned, operated, and controlled by an LGBT person or persons, apply for certification at” The documentation then goes before a certification committee.

The NGLCC recently obtained similar partnerships with both the National Football League and the United States Tennis Association.

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