• A Message from Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO

    by Jason Dittmer | Dec 30, 2015


    Dear GSBA Members,

    You are the best!

    As we come to the close of 2015, we want you to know we remain steadfast in our commitment to your success. We will continue to offer you top quality opportunities to reach the LGBT and allied market; provide you with important business and community information; showcase your business as one which supports equality; connect you with outstanding like-minded business leaders, and be your voice on the city, state, and federal level as we advocate for small business, and continue our unwavering commitment to advance equality and diversity in the workplace; and, of course, ensure a better future for all by investing in the next generation of leaders through our Scholarship Fund.

    Thank you for choosing to be a GSBA member.

    Some of GSBA's 2015 proudest moments:

    * Launched a new GSBA website
    * Created GSBA's first Small Business Council
    * Filmed by Logo TV for a video about the GSBA Scholarship Fund
    * Had a leadership role in advancing trans-inclusive health care policies
    * Participated on the Mayor's Hate Crime Task Force
    * Received a $10k grant from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in partnership with Wells Fargo to promote LGBT Certification
    * Raised over $750,000 at a sold-out TASTE of GSBA
    * Awarded $350,000 in scholarships to 48 students

    Before we say goodbye to 2015, please take 3 very important steps:

    Renew your 2016 GSBA membership

    Make a difference in the life of an LGBTQ student by making that important and very feel good donation to the GSBA Scholarship Fund

    Start 2016 by registering for our January programs

    Have a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year,
    Louise Chernin, President & CEO

  • Intentional Economic Development

    by Matt Landers | Dec 18, 2015

    “A good economy and good development do not happen by accident.”

    Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci kicked off GSBA’s economic forecast panel stating the importance of intentional action by government to spur and foster the kind of economy that benefits everyone. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray continued by observing that the Puget Sound region is experiencing its greatest growth since the gold rush and that “This is an incredible moment in our history, so how do we do it right? We must work with businesses to build on those successes!”

    Gladys Gillis, panel facilitator and Principal of Starline Luxury Coaches, asked about the spike of both high-wage and low-wage jobs across the country, at the expense of critical middle-wage jobs. The new Seaport Alliance between Seattle and Tacoma is now the third largest container port in North America, and was given as an example of the kind of generator for those middle-wage jobs. Gillis asked the mayors what role they saw for small business in the economic development of their cities. 

    Balducci expects the number of Bellevue small businesses to double by 2019, while Murray stated that over 63,000 new jobs were created in Seattle in the last five years. This is largely driven by the tech sector, with an estimated seven jobs created for every new tech job generated. Working together for regional solutions was seen as a necessity, whether for transit, homelessness or affordability. The recent Restaurant Success Initiative between Seattle, King County and Washington State was mentioned as a model to replicate. However, Murray did concede that the rapid development of the Pike/Pine corridor on Capitol Hill did not take the neighborhood small businesses into account and that the City needed to do more to hear their concerns.

    Attracting international investors is both a priority and an area where our region has lagged behind as cities like San Francisco have offices abroad devoted to attracting direct foreign investment. Nonetheless, these international investors – particularly from China – have been active in our area, notably with the groundbreaking Global Innovation Exchange partnership in Bellevue between the University of Washington, Tsinghua University and Microsoft. Murray and Balducci pointed to this as a model of success for the region – increasing outside investment, building on our strengths and expanding opportunities for the whole region.

    A functioning transportation network was named by both mayors as the top priority for Puget Sound. Neither city has it easy though, with Bellevue (incorporated only in 1953) as a 20th century car-centric city with superblocks and Seattle as dense urban center platted out in the 19th century with aging infrastructure that cannot always accommodate the sheer volume of personal vehicles on its roads. Mayor Murray touted the recent passage of the GSBA-endorsed Move Seattle levy, which will provide a desperately needed investment in Seattle’s transportation network. 

    Businesses need people to be able to live near where they work to prevent gridlock, so concerns of affordability are of paramount importance as well. Murry touted Seattle’s leadership on what he calls “the most aggressive housing affordability program in the United States.” Balducci was proud of Bellevue’s leading on environmental innovations, particularly related to water quality and shoreline stewardship.

    Facilitator Kevin Baldwin of PwC concluded by mentioning that in 1800 only two percent of the world’s population lived in cities, but now over half do. As presented in a study for APEC, this sets the stage for the importance of leadership of our mayors as the pressing issues we face are increasingly at the city level rather than state or federal.
  • Meet Jason

    by Matt Landers | Dec 17, 2015

    DITTMER, JASON_headshotMeet Jason Dittmer, GSBA's Director of Marketing & Communications.We sat down with him and asked him our customary introductory questions:

    Welcome Jason! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

    I am from Montana and moved to Seattle in the early 1990s. I was drawn to the city because of its theatre scene and worked onstage and off at many fringe theatres during their infancies. I love a great story whether its told onstage, on screen, or in print – and am currently consuming  a lot of documentaries, histories, and biographies.

    What did you do before coming to GSBA?

    Prior to GSBA, I was the Director of Marketing at Seattle International Film Festival and Whidbey Island Center for the Arts (Langley, WA) and worked for a number of nonprofit organizations including United Way, Washington Works, Open Circle Theater, and Williamstown Theatre Festival.

    What are you looking forward to doing in your new job?

    GSBA is marking its 35th year in 2016. I am honored to be part of the team that celebrates our organization’s past and that is looking toward its future. I’m looking forward to exploring how we can better celebrate our community’s successes, be a stronger voice in advocacy for business and social issues, and provide even more support for LGBTQ scholars. 

    Now that you’ve gone pro and will be working all throughout Pride weekend, what will you be doing to relax the week after?

    For the last few years, work commitments have kept me from fully enjoying the glory of a Seattle Summer. This year, I plan on finishing my garden, floating on Lake Washington, reconnecting with old pals, and treasure hunting (I have a vintage problem).
    You can reach Jason at JasonD [at] theGSBA.org.
  • Walk Me to the Car: IT Security

    by Matt Landers | Dec 17, 2015

    Amit SharmaBy Amit Sharma, CenturyLink IT Security Advisor

    IT Security is not novel.  Security concerns are ubiquitous.  Yet, it’s the very breadth and depth of IT security that makes it challenging for business managers.  There’s a mind-numbing amount of information out there about the very topic.  In this post, we will focus on a few simple ideas that will keep you on top of IT security discussions from the perspective of business leadership and outcomes.

    The top 3 things I need to know about security.

    • The goal is resilience, not perfection – You are going to get attacked. (The bad guys are probably probing your network even as you read this.)  The goal should be resilience – making sure that your business is able to defend itself well, understand the vulnerabilities and recover quickly should a security breach occur.
    • Your focus should be on business impact – Though there are a million questions and concerns about your company’s exposure to security risks, there is really only one question to ask: “What is the business impact of an incident for the information or assets in question?” E.g. what’s worse – the network going down for an hour or the business brand credibility being bruised in the eye of the consumer? The security risks with the highest potential business impact should be first in line for risk assessment and IT security resources.
    • Security is technical, but also people-centric – Conversations about security can get bewilderingly technical, even for IT professionals.  But, becoming secure has a lot to do with people and the security policies that govern their interactions with your information, apps, and customers.  Many security breaches result from poor oversight, such as sharing passwords and neglecting to apply security patches to old software.

    Give me two good reasons to pay more/better attention to IT security.

    • There is potential for serious trouble – This is not big news, but a major security incident can be a career-ending or stock-price destroying event. Being knowledgeable about what really matters in security has become an essential executive skill. If you can’t afford the cost of a breach – make sure you’re protected.
    • You can likely get better protection for the same level of spending – ITSecurity is not cheap, but what’s more expensive is the cost of a breach – a single incident in 2014 cost one major retailer nearly $165,000,000. If you understand how security truly relates to the business and to the bottom line, you will be poised to make better security investments.

    Where are the risks?

    • Missing the complete IT security picture – Adversaries  look for vulnerabilities across a wide spectrum of IT and business processes, and the worst breaches often occur in the little areas where few people thought to focus, like the memory cache on a credit-card terminal. This is where a risk assessment is key! If you don’t know where you’re vulnerabilities are how are you expected to plug the holes?
    • Misallocation of IT security resources – If you don’t understand the business impact of a security breach, you may allocate resources in the wrong place. For example, if your network is vulnerable and exposes you to a high-impact incident, you need to invest in securing your network. This may sound obvious, but some organizations attempt to secure everything at the same high level and wind up under-securing the assets that potentially affect their businesses the most.

    What is the takeaway idea for me?

    IT Security is a broad and extremely complex subject that can be effectively managed through a disciplined focus on building resilience and securing assets with the highest business impact vulnerability.  By balancing the people and technical aspects of you IT security strategy with a firm grasp of business impact, it is possible to improve security without necessarily raising the level of spending.

    Amit Sharma can be reached at amit.sharma@centurylink.com for any questions about how to protect your business and mission-critical assets.
  • 4 Things Small Businesses Need to Know About EMV Chips

    by Matt Landers | Dec 17, 2015

    Frank Sena squareBy Frank Sena, Capital BankCard

    If your small business isn’t yet prepared to accept EMV chips, you’re not alone. Capitol Bankcard recently surveyed small businesses and found that over half of respondents were not EMV-ready by October 1, 2015, the date when businesses that had not upgraded their payment terminals became liable for fraud. Another 37 percent of respondents don’t even plan to upgrade in the near future, despite the liability shift.

    That said, 63 percent of survey respondents also revealed that experiencing the effects of fraud liability might get them on board with EMV, and 47 percent of those respondents would be swayed if it cost $100 or less. No matter where you stand as a small business, here are five things you need to know about EMV—including why making the switch to EMV processing is so important.


    1. What the Heck is an EMV card?

    EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa, the three companies that originally created the standard. If you’ve traveled internationally you’ve probably noticed that EMV chip cards are widely accepted outside of the United States. Unlike magnetic-stripe cards used to make credit card payments until now, EMV cards contain an embedded chip that communicates with payment terminals, using a unique code each time and offering higher standards for authentication, so hackers can’t access cardholders’ data.  This makes each transaction more secure and resistant to fraud. As of October 1, 2015 merchants are now liable for fraudulent credit card charges moving forward.

    2. EMV Isn’t Just a Solution for Large Retailers

    The most recent edition of the National Small Business Association’s technology survey shows that almost half of survey participants had been targeted by hackers. The average cost to those small businesses was $8,700. Bigger businesses might make headlines when a breach occurs, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only companies cyber criminals are after, and it certainly doesn’t mean they’re the only retailers that should upgrade to EMV terminals.

    3. Be Ready for Some Changes at the Checkout 

    EMV ReaderWhen it comes to processing EMV transactions, cashiers should be prepared to answer some common customer questions and recognize when a shopper is paying with a chip card. The most obvious change is the need to dip a card into a slot at the bottom of the payment terminal, not swipe it. Another thing to note: processing EMV transactions takes a few seconds longer than purchases via magnetic stripe. Cashiers should be ready for questions about this extra time and ensure customers that this new, more secure payment method is worth the wait.

    4. Being EMV-Ready Can Also Mean Being Mobile-Ready

    Adding new technology to your retail repertoire might feel like a big undertaking, but EMV presents an opportunity to get even more out of that upgrade decision. Retailers can switch to an EMV-ready terminal that also accepts NFC payments like Apple Pay and Android Pay. These “tap to pay” platforms are growing in popularity, and a recent report from Deloitte predicts in-store mobile payment usage will have increased 100-fold by the end of 2015. If you’re not convinced of the EMV benefits just yet, upgrade for the benefits of accepting mobile payments. Consider the extra peace of mind each time a customer dips their card instead of swiping to be a bonus.
    Frank Sena (fsena@capitalbankcard.com) has been working in technology since 2006 and is a self-taught payments expert. Contact him if you have any questions about EMV or how to upgrade.
  • Introducing the 2016 GSBA Board of Directors

    by Matt Landers | Dec 04, 2015

    The following is the 2016 slate of Directors approved by the GSBA Board at their December 2, 2015 meeting:

    2016 OFFICERS:
    Chair: Kevin Gaspari (Real Estate Broker, Windermere)
    Vice Chair: Drew Ness (COO, 1st Security Bank)
    Secretary: Brandon Chun (Director of Human Resources, MDC)
    Treasurer: Marci Flanery (CPA)
    Scholarship Chair: Stephanie Dallas (Vice President, Morgan Stanley)
    Public Affairs Chair: Jay Petterson (Principal, Blue Wave Political Partners)

    2016 INCOMING BOARD MEMBERS (see below for bios)
    Chris Befumo (Region Operations Manager, US Bank)
    Rob Hampton (Senior Vice President, Visit Seattle)
    Gladys Gillis (Principal, Starline Luxury Coaches)
    Linda Marzano (CEO, Pacific Medical Centers)
    Beto Yarce (Executive Director, Ventures)

    Calvin Goings
    (US Small Business Administration*)
    Jenny Harding (New Chapter Weddings & Events)
    David Hernandez (New York Life)
    Dena Levine (DML Insurance Services)
    Jay Petterson (Blue Wave Political Partners)
    Paul Villa

    BefumoOriginally from New Jersey, Chris graduated with a BA in Economics from the University of Rhode Island in 1992.  He currently serves as the Region Operations Manager for Washington Metro Branches for US Bank. Chris has worked in the financial industry for 21 years, starting as a personal banker, Assistant Manager, Branch Manager and then 10 years as a District Manager in Minneapolis, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Reno.

    He moved to the Pacific Northwest in August of 2014 and fell in love with the region.  An avid runner, Chris has completed 6 half marathons this year.  He was joined the GSBA Corporate Advisory Board in March, 2015 and is now very excited to join the Board of Directors in 2016.  

    Gladys Gillis, native to Seattle, started her career in the engineering department at Boeing where she worked for 13 years.

    GillisIn 1998, she founded Starline Luxury Coaches with a vision and a limited fleet of three shuttle buses.  Over the years, she has become a respected leader in the national transportation industry.  She has served on the board of World Affairs Council of Seattle since 2010 and just recently finished her term as Chairman of that Board.  
    In 2012, she expanded her operation to the Pullman and Spokane markets through the purchase of Wheatland Express bus company.  She currently serves on the GSBA Corporate Advisory Board and is recognized as the CEO of the largest, women-owned fleet in the Pacific Northwest.  She believes in community involvement and enjoys consulting with other enterprising business people to develop their financial management skills.

    HamptonRob Hampton is Senior Vice President Convention Sales and Services at Visit Seattle, the private, nonprofit marketing organization that promotes Seattle as a destination for international and domestic leisure travel, meetings and conventions. Rob oversees Visit Seattle’s Convention Sales and Services departments, including 25 employees in the organization’s main Seattle office as well as sales offices in Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

    Hampton has more than 25 years of progressive sales leadership experience in the convention and meeting industry, including at the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, Visit Jacksonville and Experience Columbus. Hampton is an active member of several meeting industry organizations, including the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) and PCMA.  

    Hampton and his husband, Mark, enjoy their new home in Seattle, as well as traveling and having new experiences in unique destinations. 

    Linda currently is Chief Executive Officer of Pacific Medical Centers at Providence Health & Services, responsible for oversight of the nine-clinic system serving the Puget Sound region. She also serves as the Executive Director of the US Family Health Plan, a Department of Defense health plan for retired military at Pacific Medical Centers.

    Linda has over 25 years of healthcare experience in a variety of settings. Linda is a founding member of Project Access Northwest, a ground breaking non-profit that has significantly improved access to healthcare for underserved populations in the region. Under her leadership, Project Access brought together the major providers of care in the region to develop solutions to the challenges of providing specialty care to the underinsured and uninsured populations in the community.

    Linda is Past Board President and current member of the Policy Committee for the Women's Funding Alliance. In 2014, she was recognized by GSBA as Corporate Leader of the Year for her leadership role in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. She also volunteers for Year-Up, supporting urban young adults for their future careers. Linda holds a B.S. in Nursing from University of Miami and an M.H.A. from Barry University.

    Beto joined Ventures in March 2008 and serves as its Executive Director. Beto is passionate and inspired to support other entrepreneurs with their dreams and helping them realize their vision in a business. When Beto started his own business in Seattle, he did not have all the business support that he needed to navigate the system and that was the reason he decided to join Ventures (then Washington C.A.S.H.).

    Beto led Venture’s Latino Business Program for seven years, growing a fledgling training course into a thriving model for Latino small business success around the country. An aspiring businessman since the age of 8, Beto is also the founder and owner of Cintli, an upscale Mexican art and retail store in Pike Place Market. These experiences give him unique insight into the challenges faced by aspiring entrepreneurs as they work to increase their financial self-sufficiency through small business ownership.

    He received a degree in International Business from the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO) in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.
  • Take Ten

    by Matt Landers | Nov 30, 2015
    10percentThis year, any GSBA member that refers a new member to GSBA will get 10% off their dues!

    But why stop there? Our members are our best ambassadors and we want to reward you for expanding our network of small businesses. Each member who brings a new member into our organization will be able to "take ten" percent off their membership dues. If you bring in 10 new members, your own dues are fully paid for one year!

    Our membership application includes a "referred by" spot. Be sure to tell your colleauge to put your name there so that you get the credit. Or email Ari and let them know who you referred.

    Referrals must be completed by February 1, 2016 to be credited to 2016 membership. All small business members are eligible to participate. Please contact Membership Services Manager Ari Rosen to share details about a referral.
  • Small Business Saturday - Deals from GSBA Members

    by Matt Landers | Nov 24, 2015
    SmBizSatDon't forget to shop at the businesses that support your communities and neighborhoods this holiday season! Several GSBA members have specials for Small Business Saturday.

    • Timothy De Clue Collection Holiday Trunk Show. There will be free grab-bags for the first 15 people and a free set of designer Christmas lights with a $50 purchase. (1307 1st Ave, Seattle | timothydecluecollection.com)
    • Loft 63. 12% off a purchase of $299+ at full retail price. Offer valid on purchase amount before tax, excludes delivery fee, original wall art and floor lamps. See store for full details. Valid Friday, Nov. 27 - Sunday, Nov. 29. (1205 E Pike St, Suite 1F, Seattle | Loft63.com)
    • Two Big Blondes Plus Size Consignment. From November 26-30, all items 25% off on eBay and 15% off on Etsy online stores. Seattle storewide holiday sale is December 1-5, with discounts on every single item - 10-90% off (2501 S Jackson St, Seattle | twobigblondes.com)
    • SugarPill. Pop-up shop with Grace Gow Jewelry (900 E Pine St, Seattle | sugarpillseattle.com)
    • Café Yumm. $8 bowl and brew - any medium Yumm bowl and a 12oz bottle of beer. (717 Pine St | cafeyumm.com)
    • Brian Knecht, Caliber Home Loans - $500 off closing costs to anyone who completes an online application on Saturday, November 28 or Sunday, November 29.
  • Trans Day of Remembrance

    by Matt Landers | Nov 19, 2015
    Trans FlagHere is a list of events around the Puget Sound region marking Trans Day of Remembrance. We encourage all members of our community to attend and remember those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender acts of violence. Learn more at TDOR.info and GLAAD.

    North Seattle College
    9600 College Way North Seattle, WA 98103
    Baxter Center (CC building) 11am-1pm & The Grove (HSSR building) 1-3pm
    11/19/2015 @ 11:00am & 1pm

    Gender Alliance of South Sound / Immanuel Presbyterian Church
    901 N J St, Tacoma, WA 98403
    11/20/2015 @ 6:30pm

    Seattle City Hall

    600 Fourth Ave. Seattle, WA 98104
    11/20/2015 @ 7pm 

    GenderFierce: Transcendance
    The Vera Project
    Seattle Center West (Corner of Republican & Warren) Seattle, WA 98109
    11/20/2015 @ 7:30pm

    Unity of Whidbey Island
    Corner of SR-525 at Crawford Road
    5671 Crawford Road, Langley, WA 98260
    11/20/2015 @ 7pm

    Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
    2333 San Juan Avenue, Port Townsend, WA 98368
    11/20/2015 @ 7pm

    St. Hilda/St. Patrick Episcopalian Church
    15224 52nd Ave. W. Edmonds, WA 98026
    11/20/2015 @ 7pm

    Ravenna United Methodist Church
    5751 33rd Ave. NE Seattle, WA. 98105
    11/21/2015 @ 7pm 

    Bellevue First United Methodist Church
    1934 108th Ave. NE Bellevue, WA 98004
    11/21/2015 @ 7pm
  • Skip the Mall and Shop Small

    by Matt Landers | Nov 18, 2015

    Calvin GoingsSmall businesses have the power to propel the local economy and uplift the community. When our small businesses do well, our community does well too.  Please join thousands of your neighbors and “shop small” on Small Business Saturday®, Nov. 28, to support your local business owners and support the local economy.  With the holiday season upon us, I cannot think of a better time to recommit in honoring our neighborhood champions.

    You can do your part with these five simple steps:

    • If you are a business owner, make sure that you are prepared for the holiday season by checking out helpful advice from the Small Business Administration.
    • If you are a customer, commit to making at least one purchase from a locally-owned small business retailer. You can also dine small at your local restaurant to usher in the new tradition of supporting local eateries too.
    • Enjoy the experience. Travel outside your comfort zone -- and away from your computer screen -- to discover a unique neighborhood shopping district with some trendy local stores.
    • Take part in Small Business Saturday on social media, using the hashtag #SmallBizSat to amplify your support. If you can find a great small business retailer with unique products, tweet or Facebook your find so other can enjoy it too.
    • When you open your gifts, start a conversation about which one came from the most distinctive and creative sellers. This can make for great family debate over eggnog.
    I know I'll be shopping small with my friends and family on Saturday, November 28. I encourage you to do the same -and remember that "shop small" refers to whom you buy from, and not how much you buy!

    For more information, check out www.sba.gov/smallbusinesssaturday


    Calvin W. Goings
    Regional Administrator
    U.S. Small Business Administrator
  • Seattle Prop. 1 Wins at the Ballot Box

    by Matt Landers | Nov 09, 2015

    Dear GSBA members,

    Seattle Proposition 1 has won a resounding victory at the ballot box!

    GSBA was proud to partner with a broad coalition of groups, including the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, OneAmerica Votes, Transportation Choices Coalition, Puget Sound Sage, the Cascade Bicycle Club, King County Labor Council and many more in advocating on behalf of this measure. Your support made a difference!

    Over 80% of GSBA’s membership supports increased investments in our public transportation and infrastructure according to the fall membership survey. Once again, Seattle voters have decided that these investments must be made to keep pace with the rapid growth that our city is undergoing. Last year the city voted to pass the largest increase in transit service, and the Let’s Move Seattle levy will build upon those efforts with a measure that will expand commuting options and enhance safety.

    Too often in our country and in our state we have expectations of the level of services we want, but have been reluctant to increase our taxes to pay for those important services. We are proud that our membership and our city recognize that significant funding is needed to seriously address issues such as our transportation network.

    GSBA pledges to monitor SDOT’s performance with Move Seattle over the next decade to ensure that the levy is being implemented according to how it was passed and in the best interests of the city.

    Thank you for your support. 

    For equality,
    Louise Chernin, President & CEO
    Jay Petterson, Public Affairs Chair
    Matt Landers, Public Policy & Communications Manager
  • Conversation with an Entrepreneur

    by Matt Landers | Oct 29, 2015
    WayneBy John Wong

    My assignment was to interview Wayne Levinson, a new GSBA member who runs Bulk FR8 LLC, a large chemical logistics company that moves liquids across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

    After doing a thorough Google cyberstalking of Wayne, I wasn’t sure if I found the right person: a 27-year-old yoga master, snowboarder, Ferrari enthusiast, and all-around thrill seeker? Could this be the same Wayne Levinson who started a company in his early 20s and quickly grew it to the $20 million leader in the industry?

    We met for lunch at his favorite pasta joint, and the online Wayne was in fact the real Wayne, down to the casual sweatpants and T-shirt and seemingly carefree smile.

    After a few minutes, however, it was clear that Wayne is like no millennial I’ve ever met. Though being smart, driven, and risk-taking are common traits in entrepreneurs, there is something more to Wayne. Here are a few factors that he thinks contributed to his success:

    VISION: Wayne identified an unfulfilled need and had a vision of what he could do to meet that need by starting his own business, borrowing $10,000 from his parents. Wayne stressed the importance of repaying your debts as soon as possible: it builds trust in those who can (and likely will) support you in the future.

    NETWORKS: Strong professional and mentoring networks are key factors in his success, as Wayne continually consults with others to get the best advice before making key decisions. In return, he also mentors six young entrepreneurs (aged 13–25). 

    TEAM: Wayne surrounds himself with smart, motivated and passionate people who help him manage his growing business and other ventures. Building the right team is the only path to success.

    FLEXIBILITY: No two days are ever the same for Wayne. In fact, he has a desk in every department because he is everywhere during a typical workday, interacting with everybody in his company to solve problems. The same applies to his employees: they are all cross-trained to perform all functions in the company.

    NIMBLENESS: Though he makes quick, informed decisions, Wayne is willing to evaluate those decisions and change course if needed.

    OPTIMISM: Wayne says that there is opportunity to be found in whatever happens, good or bad. While he doesn’t believe that the only way to learn is through mistakes, he loves being wrong because it prevents potentially larger ramifications in the future. 

    STUDY: When you stop learning, you become stagnant and less productive, says Wayne, so he offers all Bulk FR8 employees the opportunity to continue their industry knowledge and personal growth by encouraging them to seek (and covering the costs of) degrees and industry certifications. He himself begins his first master’s program (in civil engineering with a focus on supply chain transportation and logistics) this fall at UW.

    One that we didn’t talk about is worth mentioning: ENERGY. If you want to become a successful entrepreneur like Wayne Levinson, you better have a lot of energy. He’s in overdrive most of the time and he’s passing everybody in the fast lanes. 
  • Saving an Entire Species: InterChange Media’s Campaign for Sea Turtles

    by Matt Landers | Oct 09, 2015
    InterChange - Baby Turtle

    Michele Gomes and Jenny Ting were standing on a beach on Cape Cod on a wet and cold November day, looking for stranded sea turtles, with a looming nor’easter on the horizon. The coordinator had told them that it was unlikely they would find any that day—most volunteers never come across one. But fairly early into their shift, the pair found their first cold-stunned turtle. And then another. And another. By the end of the day, they had rescued 21 hypothermic turtles and even ran out of space in their car, with Jenny forced to carry two on her lap.

    This extraordinary day was the crux of why they spent several wintery weeks in coastal New England. As the duo behind InterChange Media Art Productions, Jenny and Michele were in the process of documenting an increasingly common phenomenon: juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtles (the smallest and most endangered sea turtles) getting trapped by the hook of Cape Cod in the early winter months. While an average of 90 turtles wash up each year, the rate has been swiftly accelerating, with 413 in 2013 and over 1,200 in 2014. The BP oil spill severely affected their breeding grounds, and climate change is causing dangerous shifts in their migratory patterns. 

    InterChange - Michele with TurtleWhat started as a short news story has turned into a passion project with vital significance to the survival of an entire species. With the turtles falling (or rather, placed carefully) right into their laps, it was a story that they just couldn’t walk away from. 

    So InterChange’s Emmy-winning crew is creating Saving Sea Turtles: Rescuing the Rare Kemp’s Ridley to highlight the critical threat to this species and how whole communities up and down the Atlantic Coast are working together to save them.

    But Jenny and Michele never thought that they would be making documentary about sea turtles. In fact, Jenny says that she only started making films as a joke. Her interest quickly turned serious when she found success with the award-winning Straight Into Gay America, which followed a straight pastor unicycling from Vermont to Washington, DC, in support of LGBT rights. She reached out to Michele, an established fine art dealer and curator of multimedia exhibits in downtown Seattle, and they decided to create a production company.

    “We wanted to put the eye of the camera on life-saving values,” says Michele. “It’s so important to align your business with your values.” Their clients have been primarily women-owned businesses, LGBT people, people of color and organizations such as Tabor 100, Fuel Coffee and Pinchot University. InterChange Media has also produced videos for GSBA’s gala events, beautifully conveying the scholars’ stories and helping raise over $200,000 for the GSBA Scholarship Fund.

    Their passion for environmental issues is an “essential core value” of their business. They have documented the Beacon Food Forest, and their series The Legend of Mick Dodge (about an ex-Marine living in the Hoh Rainforest) aired for three seasons on the National Geographic Channel. 

    Right now Michele and Jenny are working on completing postproduction on Saving Sea Turtles, with the goal of releasing it in the first quarter of 2016. They are about to launch a Kickstarter campaign to help finish the animations, graphics, titling, narration, score and translations. 

    About the project, Michele says, “We don’t want to live in a world where the extinction of an entire species is seen as the norm. We want to take a stand.”

    Learn more about Jenny & Michele’s work at www.interchangemedia.com and how to support their documentary at www.savingseaturtlesmovie.com.
  • Building Businesses, Changing Lives

    by Matt Landers | Oct 09, 2015

    Who can say that in 20 years they have launched over 2,000 small businesses? 

    Ventures LogoThere are many initiatives, groups and government agencies working on economic development, but one stands out for its mission and impact on the lives of its clients: Ventures (formerly known as Washington CASH), which serves people in the Puget Sound region for whom traditional business education and financing are out of reach. 

    Ventures is committed to empowering low-income individuals. Its clients are often considered “unbankable” and cannot get loans or other funding from traditional financial institutions. The average client supports a family of 2.6 on an income of just $24,124 per year. 

    “Imagine living in Seattle on that and trying to start a business,” remarks Resource Development Manager Anjali Englund. “Folks with the entrepreneurial spirit that we all celebrate can still be held back by so many barriers."

    Ventures - Business Lab 3Despite the significant structural hurdles faced by its clients, Ventures’ success rate is very high. 80% of Ventures clients are still in business after 18 months, significantly higher than the national average. Their clients are able to break the cycle of poverty, not only enjoying their success personally but also extending those benefits to their families and outward into their communities.

    “Success means a lot of things, not just having $1 million in sales,” says Executive Director Beto Yarce. “It means having entrepreneurs get on their feet, become sustainable.” For families experiencing generational poverty, establishing a stable business not only creates economic security but also dramatically improves educational attainment and health outcomes.

    Free “Get Ready for Business” workshops introduce potential clients to the organization and offer the opportunity for Ventures staff to review a business idea. From there, clients move into business development training, covering the basics of how to start and grow a small business. Then they complete a feasibility plan and begin to create a community of entrepreneurs alongside whom they can build both competence and confidence. They are then eligible for more advanced services, including financial trainings, a matched savings program and credit counseling.

    Moreover, clients are also given access to Ventures’ commercial enterprises. Its retail incubator shop in Pike Place Market allows entrepreneurs to sell their products on a commission basis in one of the busiest commercial centers in Seattle before branching out on their own. And because the food industry has a relatively low barrier to entry, Ventures offers food business incubator programs that build on the skills its clients learn in training, giving them access to a below-market-rate commercial kitchen and to markets. Most notably, they also have the option of renting Ventures’ Word of Mouth food truck for just $30 per four-hour shift.

    A Ventures client, Eli Allison of Repair Revolution (2013 GSBA New Business of the Year), attests to the help he received. “I was skeptical at first, but I realized very quickly that these guys were different. They were really in touch with what small business owners actually needed, and they had a very holistic approach with lots of offerings for small business owners. 

    “The thing that sticks out the most for me is having a community of business owners, mentors and small business advocates around me when I was taking the biggest risk of my life, cheering me on and giving me meaningful tools and connections to take on this journey. It is so refreshing to be a part of an organization that is so in touch with their client’s needs and an organization that truly walks their talk.”

    For 20 years Ventures has been building business and changing lives. The greatest part, according to Beto, is seeing former clients become donors and give back to the community that supported them. With startups, incubators and enterprise zones all the rage now, Ventures’ established record of creating prosperity speaks for itself.

    Visit the Ventures shop below the main arcade at Pike Place Market. Keep an eye out for the Word of Mouth food truck around Seattle. Personal donations help support clients’ education and training. Learn more about Ventures’ programs at www.venturesnonprofit.org
  • NGLCC Business Certification is Good for Business!

    by Matt Landers | Oct 09, 2015
    by Elise Lindborg, co-owner, ZippyDogs

    Red Carpet KissZippyDogs is a West Seattle–based promotional products distributor (and GSBA member) now celebrating 15 years in business. In 2010 we became a certified National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) Business Enterprise, and ever since then, only good things have come to ZippyDogs. Numerous far-reaching opportunities provided by the NGLCC have allowed us to grow our business, increase our professional expertise, expand our customer base and meet fellow LGBT business owners from all over the country. 

    Over the past five years, ZippyDogs has participated in four national conferences. We have listened to Ivy League professors and learned business tips from million- and billion-dollar business owners, such as Marcus Lemonis, Barbara Corcoran, Shaun T and many others. At each conference we have had the opportunity to sit down with several Fortune 500 companies (Kellogg’s, Target, IBM, AT&T, Sodexo, and Office Depot, to name a few) and learn about potential business opportunities. ZippyDogs is proud to say that because of the NGLCC, we have done business with Southern California Edison, Bristol-Meyers Squibb and even Cracker Barrel (which has come a long way toward LGBT equality). All three of these companies are committed to LGBT supplier diversity. 

    In 2013, I applied for and received an NGLCC scholarship to attend the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and just last year I applied for and was assigned a business mentor from the Chevron Corporation to help ZippyDogs build on our already successful business. Even more notable is that ZippyDogs was named the 2013-2014 NGLCC Supplier of the Year!

    Because of the amazing work of the NGLCC, hundreds of their corporate partners have made a steadfast commitment specifically to support LGBT business owners and have set aside millions of dollars to spend with certified LGBT businesses. The only way they can meet their diversity and spending goals is to procure goods and services from a certified LGBT Business Enterprise. 

    So the time is now for LGBT-owned businesses to become certified! Doing so has opened many doors for ZippyDogs, as described. New business doesn’t just come with certification, though. As with any new endeavor, newly certified businesses need to participate in NGLCC events (such as the National Business Conference) and learn how to work within the Fortune 500 procurement system. 

    Not only has the NGLCC helped ZippyDogs find a business family, it has proven to be fun and refreshing to attend events specifically for LGBT business owners. This allows ZippyDogs to bring our authentic selves to the business table.

    A special thank-you goes to George Pieper of OutSmart Office Solutions, who approached these skeptical dogs to become a certified LGBT business five years ago. It has been one of the best business decisions we have ever made! 

    Get certified and grow your business! The time is now! WOOF!
  • Speaking of Women's Rights: Inextricable from LGBT Rights

    by Matt Landers | Oct 09, 2015

    By David Ward, Legal & Legislative Council with Legal Voice and Chair of the GSBA Public Policy Task Force.


    I’m a gay man who works for Legal Voice, a non-profit organization in Seattle that advances women’s rights in the Northwest.  The issues I focus on include gender-based violence, family law, and LGBT rights.  Sometimes, I’m asked why a women’s rights organization would make LGBT rights a core part of its mission, which Legal Voice has done since the 1980s.  And the answers show how closely intersected the women’s rights and LGBT rights movements are – or should be. 

    First, both movements challenge gender stereotypes.  The women’s rights movement fights the idea that women and men should act in certain ways based on their gender and that their roles in society should be defined (and limited) by their gender.  The LGBT rights movement challenges the same gender stereotypes – like the idea that a marriage should only be between a man and a woman, or that men should be “masculine” and women should be “feminine.”  Because such gender stereotypes often find their origins in religious doctrine, both movements must fight against allowing religion to be used as a license to discriminate under the law.

    Both movements also must focus on ending gender-based violence and harassment.  Violence against woman and violence against LGBT people are both the result of a culture that permits violence against “others” to be normalized.  When a trans woman is murdered or a gay man is attacked on the street, it is often because the attacker feels a privilege over a person who is marginalized in our society. The same is often true when women are harassed on the street, sexually assaulted, or victimized by domestic violence.

    The two movements are also linked in our efforts to protect bodily autonomy – the right to control your own body.  In the women’s rights movement, this includes the right to decide whether to have an abortion.  In the LGBT rights movement, bodily autonomy includes the right to decide how to express oneself sexually, as well as the right to have a body that matches your gender identity.  To achieve bodily autonomy, the women’s rights movement must fight for insurance coverage for abortion care, while the LGBT rights movement must fight for insurance coverage for transition-related care for transgender community members.

    These are just some of the reasons why the women’s rights and LGBT rights movements are so closely linked – and why both movements should support each other and work closely together in our common fight for equality.

  • CB 118455 – All-Gender Restrooms Ordinance

    by Matt Landers | Oct 09, 2015

    This letter was submitted to the Seattle City Council on August 10. The bill passed unanimously.

    Dear Councilmembers:

    On behalf of the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA), we are writing to express our strong support for CB 118455.  This important legislation will help ensure that transgender and gender nonconforming people have safe and equal access to restroom facilities in City buildings and other places of public accommodation in Seattle.

    CB 118455 will advance this goal in a cost-effective manner by:

    • Providing that single-occupant restrooms in City buildings and places of public accommodation may not be restricted to a specific sex or gender identity, and must use appropriate signage to indicate that such facilities are designated for use by any person.
    • Explicitly specifying that when places of public accommodation have gender-specific restrooms or other gender-specific facilities, individuals have the right to use the facilities that are consistent with their gender identity or expression
    • Updating and clarifying the definition of the term “gender identity” in the Seattle Municipal Code.

    As the nation’s largest LGBT and allied chamber of commerce, GSBA strongly supports this effort to protect the civil rights of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals.  These protections are also good for Seattle businesses.  They will help ensure that transgender and gender nonconforming people – a large and growing community in the Seattle area – will be able to patronize Seattle businesses without fear that they will be denied access to appropriate restroom facilities.  As a result, we would expect this ordinance will promote increased patronage of Seattle businesses by transgender and gender nonconforming customers.

    Thank you for your consideration of our views and for the Council’s leadership on this important issue.


    Jay Petterson, Public Policy Chair, GSBA Board of Directors
    David Ward, Chair, Public Policy Task Force

  • GSBA Takes NGLCC Conference by Storm!

    by Rachael Brister | Oct 03, 2015

    GSBA Checkby Rachael Brister, VP of Marketing & Tourism

    From August 11-14, over 800 LGBT and allied entrepreneurs, business owners, corporate representatives and LGBT chamber leaders from across the country and around the globe descended upon Ft. Lauderdale Florida for the NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference.

    Attendees take part in three days of symposia, panel discussions, development seminars and special events designed to generate business opportunities and build strong relationships with corporate champions and one another. 

    I was fortunate enough to be one of those attendees along with GSBA President & CEO Louise Chernin and GSBA Board members Drew Ness and Jenny Harding. GSBA is a founding member of the NGLCC and we have sent representatives to this conference almost every year and even hosted it in Seattle in 2009. 

    We were not the only GSBA representatives at the conference. Some of our small business members are very active with NGLCC including George Pieper of OutSmart Office Solutions and Elise Lindborg of ZippyDogs, both of whom are certified LGBT businesses. Both have been named Supplier of the Year by NGLCC, in 2012 and 2013, respectively. It was great to see them around the conference and watch them in action as they presented in breakout sessions, were matched with corporate procurement officers to discuss potential business or exhibiting in the marketplace.

    IMG_8896 - TomboyX

    Another GSBA member took center stage….literally. TomboyX was a contestant in the LGBT Biz Pitch, a fast-paced competition among three LGBT entrepreneurs selected to give their best 10-minute presentations on their company. They gain valuable feedback from an expert panel of angel investors, venture capitalists, and other business experts. Participants have the potential to continue their dialogue with the judges, and one lucky winner is awarded a $10,000 cash prize as well as a brand positioning package valued at $20,000. Co-Founder and CEO of TomboyX, Fran Dunaway, delivered a fantastic presentation complete with models showing of their top selling product, the boxer brief. Her knowledge, enthusiasm and overall great line of products paid off because TomboyX won the competition! Congratulations to Fran and her team for a great pitch.

    Throughout the conference the breakout sessions are categorized for the different types of attendees. One of these tracts is for LGBT chamber leaders from across the country. Earlier this year, I submitted a proposal, along with the Co-Founders of Travel Gay Canada, to present one of these sessions on Tourism. Our proposal was accepted and along the way we added an additional presenter: the President & Co-Founder of the Argentina Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

    Driving Economic Growth Through Tourism

    Tourism plays an important economic driver for many communities and LGBTBEs. This session will highlight the importance LGBT tourism can have on a community, and how local and international LGBT Chambers of Commerce can work with their members, their tourism industry, and their destination marketing organizations to create value through increased visitation and tourism receipts. From the session, participants will receive concrete takeaways that they can use to grow business for their own Chambers, LGBTBEs, and communities.

    I focused on what GSBA has been able to accomplish in the LGBT Tourism realm, how we promote our members in this industry and the successes and challenges of a Chamber-based Tourism initiative.  I was proud to highlight the diverse and generous support we receive from our Tourism sponsors and I emphasized the importance of creating strong partnerships with sponsors -- that our Tourism sponsors offer so much more than just a signed check.



    And speaking of checks, a major highlight of the week was the $10,000 grant GSBA received from NGLCC and Wells Fargo. GSBA was awarded a grant to increase our efforts around LGBTBE certification. Read more about that here.

    And on a personal note, in addition to thoroughly enjoying my experience presenting at the conference, I was a giggly fangirl for the keynote plenary on the 1st day of the conference. The one and only Suze Orman told her story of being an out lesbian in the world of finance and her rise to become one of the world’s leading authorities on the subject. She also spent time answering questions from the audience, often with no-hold-barred answers. Before she spoke, she took the time to pose for selfies. This fangirl, unfortunately, did not make it to the front of the ballroom fast enough. But it was such a thrill to hear her speak, I can overlook the fact that I did not get to post a #SuzeSelfie.

  • New Board Member: John Sternlicht

    by Rachael Brister | Oct 03, 2015

    John SternlichtJohn Sternlicht was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) at the August meeting.

    John is the Executive Director of the Economic Development Association of Skagit County (EDASC), a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting and enhancing the economic vitality of Skagit County. He also currently serves on the international Economic Development Council's Board of Directors. He previously served as Economic Development Advisor to King County Executive Dow Constantine, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth of Virginia and as the first General Counsel and Policy and Legislative Director of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

    John spent his childhood in Rhode Island and North Carolina, and has a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, focusing on Western Europe and Latin America, and studied journalism and communications at the Université de Fribourg before earning a law degree from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He practiced law in North Carolina and Virginia and earned his certification in economic development from the International Economic Development Council in 2001.

    Sternlicht has been married to James Finley, Seattle University’s head volleyball coach, since 2010. Together they have three grown sons.

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