The GSBA Blog

  • Legislature Passes Unemployment Insurance Fixes

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Feb 01, 2021
    On Friday night, the Washington State Legislature passed ESSB 5061, an emergency bill to address the significant increases in unemployment insurance faced by businesses at the start of this year. GSBA supported these efforts and will continue to advocate for continued support of small businesses in the management of the unemployment system as well as efforts to keep the program fully funded so that it can continue its essential role for workers. This bill reduces the various automatic formulas that determine unemployment insurance rates, as well as increases the benefits for the neediest workers. In total, this bill represents over $1 billion in taxes that are being waived or delayed.

    What will ESSB 5061 do for employers?
    - Experience rate: the benefit ratio calculation period is extended from 4 to 5 years, resulting in a lower average experience rate
    - Social tax: maximum lowered from 1.22% currently to 0.5% in 2021, gradually increasing to 0.9% in 2025
    - Solvency surcharge: suspended for 5 years. This is an automatic surcharge that typically kicks in when the fund is below a certain level, to a maximum of 0.2%
    - Voluntary Contribution surcharge: will not be charged through May 2026
    - Shared Work programs: now 100% reimbursed by federal CARES Act through March 14, 2021 and will not be charged to employers
    - Makes certain unemployment insurance benefits non-chargeable to employers' experience rates, including all weeks between March 21 and May 30, 2020.

    What will ESSB 5061 do for employees?
    - Expands eligibility for those in high-risk households, particularly in instances where someone in a high-risk household leaves work voluntarily
    - Waives waiting period when federally reimbursed
    - Increases weekly benefit threshold by increasing minimum from 15% to 20% of average weekly wage (maximum remains the same)
    - Ends deduction of lump sum pensions from weekly benefit amounts

    You can read the full bill here, or the Legislature's 6-page summary here.

    This bill now heads to the Governor's desk for final signature. As it is designated emergency legislation, it will take effect immediately.

    Later this week there will be additional emergency bills that impact small businesses, including HB 1095 which makes certain COVID relief grants tax-exempt, and a new $2.2 billion COVID relief bill.

    Please reach out to GSBA staff if you have any questions about ongoing legislative work ( or how these new rules might impact your business (

  • Over twenty-three years of dance and counting at Century Ballroom

    by GSBA Staff
    | Jan 22, 2021

    From gentrification to a pandemic, Century Ballroom & The Tin Table have survived the odds

    Hallie Kuperman and her staff at Century Ballroom and The Tin Table have seen more than their fair share of change from the second floor of Capitol Hill’s Oddfellows Building at the corner of 10th and E. Pine streets. From parking changes and the addition of the streetcar and light rail to Cal Anderson Park's many transformations to massive residential and commercial development, for almost 24 years, Hallie has watched her professional home change on every level that a neighborhood can change.

    sMeCVPEQShe opened Century Ballroom in 1997, a business with a mission: “To promote social dancing of all kinds, Century Ballroom encourages a diverse community that includes your gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, race, age, and religion. As a DJ and dance instructor herself, dancing is in Hallie’s DNA.

    In 2009, she opened The Tin Table across the hall from Century Ballroom. A warm, cozy restaurant with an eclectic menu of Pacific Northwest dishes, cocktails, and an expansive list of bubbles. Hallie felt that every meal out should feel like a celebration and wanted her customers to feel the same when dining at The Tin Table.

    With two businesses rooted in gathering and community, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected Hallie on all fronts. We asked Hallie how she and her team have been coping this past year and what is on the horizon for her businesses.

    GSBA: How have you pivoted both of your businesses to meet the challenges and obstacles brought on by the pandemic?

    Hallie: We made a choice early on not to teach dance online. Century Ballroom is somk6_FRgg steeped in social and partner dancing that it didn’t feel right to take that dancing online. We also knew the internet would be inundated with classes.

    We waited to offer take out for the Tin Table since it wasn’t something we had offered pre-pandemic, and we wanted to make sure we got it right. When restaurants could re-open indoor dining at 25 percent capacity, we transformed Century Ballroom into a restaurant to have ample space for tables. It was The Tin Table at Century Ballroom. We spent many, many months going with the flow of the neighborhood, the city, and the country in terms of staying open on any given day or choosing to close. It was unpredictable, at best.

    One new idea we launched was “to-go” baskets or bags with themes including Fancy Picnic, Glamping, and date night. And, of course, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and NYE dinners. The latter included candles, glitter, balloons, and fake snow.

    zHxkCUewGSBA: How has being a Ready for Business grant recipient helped you and your business?

    Hallie: We recognize that both of our particular businesses will be some of the last to open. We have been able to keep operating because of the generous support we have received. Rent and payroll are the obvious significant expenses, but there are so many more expenses beyond those two that need to be paid as well.

    GSBA: These days, what keeps you going?

    Hallie: Knowing how vital Century Ballroom has been to the community over the last (almost) 24 years and the outpouring of support we have received makes fighting for the business’ survival all worthwhile.

    GSBA: What’s next for Century Ballroom and The Tin Table?

    Hallie: We’re starting a weekend takeout series called “The Tin Table Travels.” Each week we offer a themed three-course meal highlighting cuisines of various countries, including Germany, Italy, France (for Valentine’s Day, of course), and more. We will resume indoor dining once we are allowed to do so. Right before the indoor dining ban, we had started dinner and a movie night in the Ballroom. I am excited to start that up again. As for dancing, once we can have up to 10 people in a class, we will resume teaching classes again. I know large public dances or 70-person classes, which are our bread and butter, won’t be happening for quite some time. But I sure look forward to that first dance, whether it’s OutDancing for the LGBTQ+ community, Swing, Salsa, Kizomba, Bachata, Tango, Waltz…I know it will be epic!

    Century Ballroom is one of the 65 BIPOC, LGBTQ, or women-owned small businesses in the Seattle Metropolitan Seattle area who received a grant from the Ready for Business Fund in the fall of 2020. Co-founded by GSBA and Comcast Washington, the Ready for Business Fund provides $2,500 grants and wrap-around support services to minority-owned small businesses most impacted by the economic downturn due to COVID-19. The program's next application will open in March, with a $100,000 fundraising goal. Click here to donate or learn more about the Ready for Business Fund.

  • AntiSocial publication carves out space for Seattle BIPOC artists & creators

    by GSBA Staff
    | Jan 19, 2021

    Founded by Seattle-based artists Gabriel-Bello Diaz, Ulysses Curry, and Leleita McKill in 2019, AntiSocial is a local publication focused on highlighting the voices of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ artists, small businesses, and community organizers through photographs and articles.

    AS Finals 17In December of 2019, Co-founder Gabriel-Bello Diaz joined the inaugural GSBA & Ventures Small Business Incubator class to kick-start the publication and learn about the many nuances of owning a small business. Designed to elevate and empower transgender, BIPOC, and QTBIPOC entrepreneurs, the GSBA & Ventures Small Business Incubator takes small business owners through an immersive eight-week learning experience, including Ventures’ Business Basics Course, periodic mentor discussions, a complimentary first-year GSBA membership, and more.

    Gabriel graduated from the program in early 2020, with AntiSocial publishing its debut issue in the fall. We caught up with Gabriel to hear about his goals for the publication and how the Incubator helped him get off the ground.

    GSBA: Tell us a bit about what kind of content someone might see in AntiSocial.

    Gabriel: “We tell the stories of local BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ artists through photographs and articles on how they navigate through the city to achieve the amazing work they are doing. These photoshoots are in collaboration with local photographers and fashion designers to make each article feel like a high-fashion editorial. This publication is produced locally through another GSBA member, Girlie Press, because again we love how our city collaborates.”

    GSBA: How did you first come up with the concept for AntiSocial?antisocial issue 1

    Gabriel: “The need for our voices to be heard was always at the forefront in creative industries. I wanted to pull those stories together and showcase the ‘behind the scenes’ of the work we do.”

    GSBA: What motivated you to apply for the GSBA & Ventures Small Business Incubator?

    Gabriel: “I've been an artist selling one off custom products for over a decade, but I wanted this new business to operate at a higher level. I needed the support of the legal and financial growth of a business that aims to dish out W9 to artists, along with gaining sponsorship and support from the city. GSBA has that now, as well as those resources.”

    GSBA: What was your experience like taking part in the GSBA & Ventures Small Business Incubator? 

    Gabriel: It has been very helpful in establishing the financial structure and decision-making for our launch. (It also) provided an opportunity to meet other small businesses who we could potentially collaborate with in the future. The most important thing I learned was to keep looking into the future while focusing on the present. This approach helped me develop a solid plan while maintaining flexibility as I navigate my decisions daily. It’s okay to change and adopt your business in its infant stage.

    GSBA: What was it like to take part in a community of trans, gender-diverse, and QTBIPOC entrepreneurs?

    antisocial volume 2Gabriel: It was refreshing to find us all on a business or entrepreneurial road, with a focus on success for our community and supporting each other.

    GSBA: What’s next for you and AntiSocial?

    Gabriel: Our launch happened on November 27, but I'm still in the beginning phases of getting this off the ground through paperwork. Our current goal is to get our 200 copies sold and get the attention of potential sponsors, so we can establish a strong foundation moving forward. As of now, the annual community publication costs $50 and we aim to provide it quarterly and for free.

    In February, AntiSocial will conduct an open call for artists to take part in its second issue, Volume 02: Love + Rage. The first issue can be purchased here. Folks can keep up with AntiSocial by following the publication on Instagram.

  • GSBA Condemns Attempted Coup at US Capitol

    by Jay Petterson, GSBA Board Chair & Mark Rosén, GSBA Acting President & CEO
    | Jan 11, 2021

    Issued on January 7, 2021

    Yesterday’s insurrection was nothing short of an attempted coup. All of us at GSBA share the pain, sadness, and anxiety that is being felt across our community this morning at the state of our nation. The actions in both Washington, D.C. and Olympia yesterday were direct attacks on our democracy, the rule of law, against the free press, and often fueled by racist and anti-Semitic hatred. It is also impossible to ignore the difference in how these rioters were treated compared to those protesting for Black lives this summer. These actions have been spurred by years of blatant lies from the President and his followers.

    We are thankful that our federal delegation and their staffs appear to be unharmed, but we carry with us the deep hurt in witnessing what they experienced yesterday in the center of our democracy. Yesterday’s events should never have been possible, and we must ensure that it never happens again. We must work together to hold the perpetrators accountable. While we cannot come together in our community hubs or with our friends as we normally would, let us continue to support each other while we remain physically apart. Please take care of yourselves and reach out to and check in on those around you.

    Jay Petterson, GSBA Board Chair
    Mark Rosén, GSBA Acting President & CEO

  • How to #ShopSmall this holiday season

    by GSBA Staff
    | Dec 14, 2020
    Small businesses employ over half of our state's workforce, give our neighborhoods their character, and serve as gathering places and safe-spaces for our community. This holiday season, our small businesses need the support of our entire community as they continue to face unprecedented challenges. So, we put together a list of actions you can take to show up for our small business community during the holiday months - and throughout the year.

    A little bit goes a long way
    (Mostly) Priceless ways to show your support
    - Leave a positive Yelp, Facebook, or Google review
    - Follow small businesses on social media & engage with their posts 
    - Give a social media shout-out & use #SmallBusinessSaturday or #ShopSmall
    - Tip generously
    - Tell your friends & family about your favorite business

    Your GSBA Guide & Directory
    Whether you're looking to remodel your kitchen, a new dentist, or tonight's dinner, the GSBA Guide & Directory can point you towards an LGBTQ or allied owned small business that can meet your needs.

    Shop the Hill
    Take part in the annual neighborhood tradition led by the Capitol Hill Business Alliance (CHBA), a program of GSBA, and the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog by following the Shop the Hill Facebook page and downloading the free digital images here. Neighborhood businesses can submit their promotions here and request a safe poster delivery here.

    Virtually stroll from store to store with Support Capitol Hill
    Earlier this spring, CHBA partnered with DEI Creative, Hunter's Capital, and Dunn & Hobbes to present, an online marketplace which lets shoppers browse products from storefronts and restaurants across the neighborhood, while businesses retain 100% of the revenue and can list their products for free.

    Spend Like It Matters
    Because it does. GSBA member The Intentionalist has created a handy holiday shopping guide for the kids, parents, activists, foodies, and more in your life. Their delivery and take-out directory can help you feast to your fill this holiday season, and their gift certificate marketplace makes it easy to support small businesses who don't have an online store.

    Shop Your Block
    The Seattle Office of Economic Development's program Shop Your Block gives you a seamless shopping experience throughout Seattle neighborhoods including North Seattle, the U-District, West Seattle, Ballard, Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square, South Seattle, and Crown Hill.


  • Thank you for supporting LGBTQ students at EQUALUX 2020!

    | Nov 23, 2020

    EQUALUX: A Virtual Concert for Our Scholars, successfully brought together our community far-and-wide this Saturday, filling our hearts with the amazing stories of our scholars and wonderfully moving performances. In a year like no other, it was heartening to see and feel the outpouring of support for our future leaders. Amidst so much uncertainty for our country and community, one thing that’s certain, is the knowledge that when we come together, we can accomplish much - and that is exactly what happened. To all of you, we say thank you!

    If you missed the event, you can watch it here!

    A huge thank you must first go to our Entertainment Partner, A Sensible Theatre Company and our producers, Jared Michael Brown and Paul Flanagan, who worked closely with GSBA Programs Manager Carlos Chavez, GSBA Sr. Development Officer Jeff Boyer, and our EQUALUX Co-Chairs, Incoming GSBA Board President Jay Petterson and his husband Michael Mattmiller, whose calm leadership and passionate support kept us focused on our mission. We couldn’t have done this without our wonderful EQUALUX Committee who worked hard to reimagine EQUALUX as a virtual event. We couldn’t be prouder and more thankful for their dedication. 

    he night was led by our stylish emcee, award-winning actor and Seattle celebrity, Timothy Pigee, who carried the evening with such warmth, as we celebrated our scholars through a series of truly magnificent performances. Alex Newell kicked off the show with an energetic performance of "Keep It Moving." Then, Rheanna Attendido, Olivia Hamilton, Aviona Rodriquez Brown, Arika Matoba, and Cassi Q Kohl, sung an acoustic rendition MUNA's "I Know a Place," while Lauren Du Pree sung a moving take on “Stand Up” by Cynthia Erivo later in the night. We were enthralled with a routine by two of Seattle’s acclaimed contemporary dancers Nahshon Omari and Dustin Durham who, in collaboration with Devin Marie Munoz, brought X Ambassadors’ song “Unsteady” to life through movement. World-renowned singer Jimmie Herrod also sung a passionate take on “Tomorrow.” The night came to a powerful conclusion with a memorable piece by the genius of Darnell White, a multi-faceted Harlem-based composer and activist, who was joined by fellow New Yorkers Nathan Tolliver, Burgundy Williams, Josh Walker, Kwame Remy, and David LaMarr – reminding us again, that indeed, a New Day is Coming!

    We were reminded of the impact your investment has on our scholars, when Washington State Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu talked with GSBA Scholar Astro Pittman about what it means to be a young Black activist and student in 2020, and his hopes for a brighter and more just future.

    mary and astro

    We also got to know several other GSBA Scholars including Ro Boyce, Manny Lopez, Anna Rink, Nick Takahashi, Bryant Allen, Isa Jolie, Casey Williams, and Kendrick Jackson. They are already making a huge impact on their campuses and in their communities, and we can’t wait to see the difference they continue to make after earning their degrees. These scholars were introduced by supporters of the Fund Shay Thoelke, Jorge Peraza, Dana Savage, Kristi Maldonado, M Abeo, Felipe Lenz Carvalho, and Kyle Rapiñan.

    GSBA Deputy Director Mark Rosén, introduced a surprise special segment honoring retiring President & CEO Louise Chernin, and announcing the Louise Chernin Scholarship Fund in her honor. This fund, created by the GSBA Board, will support the work of the Scholarship Fund and the community is invited to make donations and to attend the virtual party in Louise’s honor in late January, date to be announced.

    Though we didn’t have the traditional paddle raise moment, several donors raised their virtual paddles with significant donations including Co-Chairs Jay Petterson and Michael Mattmiller, The Beeks Foundation, Glenn Johnson and Michael Melancon, ad Kevin Spratt. The GSBA Board once again stepped up with 100% participation to create a Leadership Match, which was instrumental in helping double guests' donations.

    All of this would not be possible without our Board of Directors, led by Board Chair Extraordinaire Stephanie Dallas and Scholarship Fund Chair Carrie Carson. The magic of EQUALUX wouldn’t be possible without our magnificent sponsors, including Title Sponsor Comcast NBC Universal and Event Sponsors Alaska Airlines, Amazon, Carter Subaru, DML Insurance, Fred Hutch, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Kaiser Permanente, Morgan Stanley, Sound, Symetra. We’d like to also thank our Main Stage Sponsor ArtsWest, Voice of Scholarship InterChange Media Arts, Mask Sponsor Brand|Pride, and Print Sponsor Girlie Press.

    A very special thank you to the GSBA Development and Scholarship Staff, with the vision of Mark Rosén leading the team of Jeff Boyer, Taylor Briggs, Carlos Chavez in making this evening possible, with special assistance from Toraya Miller, Gabe Neuman, Rachel Chernin, Cade Schmidt, and the rest of the amazing GSBA staff.

    Most importantly, from the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank you our guests, for helping make this year's EQUALUX such an outpouring of community love and hope.

    If you were not able to join us Saturday night, there's still time to show your support by making a year-end gift to the GSBA Scholarship Fund. We also would like to encourage all guests to renew their GSBA Membership for 2021, and if you are not yet a member, we'd love to have you as a member to contribute as we move with forward vision together into a brighter 2021. Together, we all thrive.

  • GSBA Urges New Small Business Supports with New Restrictions

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Nov 20, 2020
    This letter was sent to Washington State and City of Seattle leaders on November 20, 2020.

    As we enter the next four weeks of restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19, we ask that our public officials take a strong stand to support our small businesses and community nonprofits. Representing 1,300 members across the state, GSBA - Washington's LGBTQ chamber - is very concerned about the survival of our members, especially during what is normally the most important commercial season for many small businesses. We understand and agree that the pandemic must be brought under control before we can work on an economic recovery.

    With the latest round of restrictions, both the City of Seattle and Washington State have announced renewed efforts to support our small businesses. With that in mind, GSBA urges our governments to:

    • make available as many direct cash grants as possible, rather than loans
    • ensure that funds are directed to those most impacted by the new restrictions, including food and beverage establishments, small retail, and arts organizations.
    • ensure that eligibility criteria are broad enough to incorporate low-margin high-employment businesses like restaurants (is there room to expand beyond the current 25 FTE limit?)
    • clarify that if nonprofits are included in grant or loan opportunities, that the applications reflect that circumstance
    • make the application for and disbursement of funds as simple as possible for struggling establishments
    • expand and expedite permitting to assist small businesses adjust quickly to the evolving situation, given the holiday season and its weather
    • give any business financial relief that is possible, specifically waiving or eliminating any taxes or fees (rather than delaying them)

    We understand that state law constrains our ability to provide enough direct small business assistance in the necessary ways. We still urge you to do all that you can to provide as much assistance as you possibly can.

    Additionally, we have been asked if the City can clarify some of the following points:

    • What is the capacity of OED to process additional Small Business Stabilization Fund requests? Is the round going to be increased from where it was two weeks ago, or are we operating under the same numbers of grants as prior to this lockdown?
    • Will any City supports be retroactive for those businesses who have already had to purchase required goods?
    • What taxes or fees does the City believe could be feasibly waived to help provide relief?
    • Clarification on the City's decision that personal guarantees on business leases are unenforceable -- are they retroactively enforceable? A business could be covered right now under the rule, but what happens if/when the order expires? Could a landlord come back and then try to enforce a personal guarantee after the pandemic is over?

  • Letter from WA Small Business Recovery Working Group

    by GSBA staff
    | Nov 19, 2020

    This letter was sent to the Washington federal delegation on November 19, 2020. GSBA is a signatory.

    Members of the Washington State Congressional Delegation:

    We urge immediate Congressional action on small business relief to mitigate the continued and rapidly worsening impacts of COVID-19. The situation facing small business is dire. Washington State is experiencing the worst levels of infection and hospitalizations since the onset of the pandemic. Small businesses, trying to hang on since the spring, will likely be destroyed without further provision of significant federal emergency aid. Thousands more jobs will be lost as workers and families are already struggling – Washington led the nation in new unemployment claims the first week of November. This was the largest weekly increase reported by any state over this period and the largest increase in Washington State since mid-March 2020.

    Here are specific actions we believe Congress should take before Thanksgiving: 

    - Reauthorize the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which expired on August 8, and extend it through June 2021.
    - Allow existing PPP borrowers to apply for a second PPP loan and allow a more flexible use of proceeds so that businesses can use the funds for personnel as well as other costs they must incur in order to survive until the pandemic is under control and normal business operations can resume.
    - Extend the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) authorization through June 2021.
    - Mandate that the Small Business Administration (SBA) lift the $150,000 per loan cap. Small businesses need to be able to borrow the amount they need to weather the pandemic’s disastrous impacts.
    - Allow EIDL borrowers to get a second EIDL if needed due to the long duration of the pandemic or due to the previously imposed small loan size caps. Congress should clarify that the SBA should not deduct EIDL advance grants from the PPP forgiveness calculations. EIDL and PPP are separate programs.
    - Reinstitute the SBA debt relief provisions related to 7a, 504 and micro loans. This useful set of relief tools expired on September 27, 2020. Congress should again authorize these relief provisions and extend them through June of 2021.
    - As called for in the RELIEF for Main Street Act, sponsored by Senators Murray, Booker and Daines, invest in Community Development Financial Institutions as well as state and local economic development loan funds. Investing in the alternative access to capital delivery system will help ensure dollars will get to minority and women-owned firms and smaller enterprises.
    - Create a streamlined process for PPP forgiveness. Currently, the SBA is using a streamlined process for PPP loans under $50,000. Congress should extend the streamlined process requirement to loans under $150,000. The volume of PPP transactions that needs to go through the forgiveness process is vastly larger than what SBA is staffed to handle. In Washington State alone there were over 107,000
    PPP loans approved for over $12.3 billion. Each one of these must go through the forgiveness review process. Nationally over 85% of the PPP transactions are under $150,000 but represent only 30 percent of the funding. It is just more practical to forgive the smaller loans using a streamlined method and focus the agency review resources on the larger dollar transactions. 
    - Extend the state and local government spending deadlines for CARES Act funding through 2021 and clarify that repayments from loans made with CARES Act funds can be retained for further small business support and recovery purposes.

    Thank you for your consideration of our request. We recognize the complexity of these issues and appreciate your consideration of our suggestions.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Members of the Washington State Small Business Recovery Working Group

  • Assist Your Employees in Returning to Work More Quickly

    by Emily Sixta, Thurston County Chamber of Commerce
    | Nov 10, 2020
    L&I’s Stay at Work Program Benefits Businesses by Assisting in Safely Returning Employees to Work After Injury

    The importance of worker safety cannot be understated. At a time when businesses are doing everything possible to maintain operations and remain as lean as possible, reducing on-the-job injuries and employee absences is of upmost importance. When an employee sustains serious injuries, it can lead to multiple months of missed work resulting in interruptions to business operations, loss of productivity and additional costs to train a new or interim employee. This is not only detrimental to your business but also has a substantial impact on the employee’s income and can negatively affect their feelings of self-worth and further hinder their recovery. To mitigate these issues, L&I offers a Stay at Work program geared toward returning previously injured employees back to work in a safe manner.

    When done properly, bringing an employee back to work quickly, and safely, can reduce costs to your business and reduce the likelihood of the employee being on permanent assistance. With L&I’s Stay at Work Program, eligible employers can receive reimbursement costs associated with bringing an injured employee safely back to work, including pay and alterations to the workplace or equipment. Employers benefit by retaining skilled employees and employees benefit by getting back to work more quickly and in a safe manner.

    What Is Your Company Required to Do?

    With the Stay at Work program, employers provide light-duty or interim positions, complying with any medical advice, that allow employees to return to work as they heal from their injuries. This may include providing the employee with a reduced schedule, adjusting their job duties to those with less physical demands while the employee heals and then phasing in more strenuous work as allowed or adjusting the worksite and/or equipment to meet the limitations of the employee. Employers may work with the injured party’s practitioner to develop an approved plan that is mutually beneficial to the business and employee.

    Who is Eligible?

    To be eligible for the Stay at Work program, employers must be paying workers’ compensation premiums to L&I, meaning that it is not available for self-insured employers. Also, L&I states that at the time of the injury or occupational disease on the claim, the employer must be either “an employer whose experience rating is affected by the allowed claim because you once employed the worker,” or, “the worker’s last employer when the allowed claim was filed, even if the claim will not affect your experience rating.”

    What Can Be Reimbursed?
    Employers can be reimbursed for 50% of the worker’s base wages equaling up to $10,000, or wages for 66 days worked within a consecutive 24-month period in the light duty job, whichever comes first. Base wages may include the hourly or base rate and overtime but cannot include tips, bonuses, commission, board, housing or fuel. In addition, employee benefits such as healthcare, vacation, sick leave or holiday pay cannot be covered within the reimbursement.

    L&I can also reimburse employers for part of the cost in training, tools and clothing necessary for performing duties approved within the back-to-work plan. This allows employers to adequately prepare a workspace that is medically approved for the injured employee. All expensed items must be purchased in order to assist the worker in performing the light duty work; meaning employers cannot be reimbursed for any equipment, tools, training, or clothing that would be regularly provided to employees.

    Through the Stay at Work program, employers collaborate with the injured employee and their practitioner to determine what is best for all parties involved. When employers, employees and practitioners come together to find mutually beneficial ways for previously injured employees to return to work quickly, everyone benefits. To learn more about the Stay at Work program, eligibility and how your company can benefit, visit

    This article was originally written by the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Department of Labor & Industries for employer outreach and education.

  • GSBA members share how COVID-19 has impacted their business with Rep. Rick Larsen

    by Ilona Lohrey (She/her), GSBA VP of Membership & Programs
    | Nov 02, 2020

    On a very frosty October morning, I set out on a small business tour in Snohomish County with Congressman Rick Larsen (WA-02) who wanted to connect and hear from GSBA members about the impact COVID-19 has had on their operations.

    Gladys Gillis and Julie KeimFirst stop at 9:00 AM was with Gladys Gillis, owner of Starline Luxury Coaches and Julie Keim, owner of Compass Courses Maritime Training at their home in Mukilteo. Congressman Rick Larsen was accompanied by his assistant Lindsey Webb. All social distancing and safety protocols were rigorously followed.

    We met on the patio of Gladys and Julie's home with a beautiful view of Puget Sound in a chilly 48 degrees. Gladys shared that her business is down 80% of its original revenues and that she had to close four out of seven locations. Bus ridership came to an abrupt halt due to COVID-19. Ridership has still not returned, even though physical barriers were installed from shoulder height to the ceiling, air on buses are cycled every two minutes, and 20% new air is introduced every air cycle. In her continuing quest to bring back ridership and keep people safe, her business uses Xmicrobe chemicals every 30 days as a long-term COVID-19 killing coating, and a disinfectant called FreshStart between every group of riders. Both chemicals are also sprayed on the air filters on each bus.

    The bus industry is the second largest transportation industry following air travel. However, the industry doesn't have standardized cleaning protocols across the board in each State. The United Motorcoach Association is desperately looking to get the CERTS Act approved to ensure survival of the industry. Currently, 80% of the motorcoach workforce has been laid-off across the country. Starline had to drastically cut employees and is now operating with only 12 staff members. Starline has 110 busses in operation, of which some still have payments due. The OCC and banks need to continue working with the motorcoach industry through at least the end of 2021 and extend and preserve credit lines and loans. Gladys doesn't see a recovery for Starline until at least 2022. 2021 will be the true test of survival. "There is no miracle or magic event that happens on January 1, 2021, and everything is great again. It's a long way to recovery," said Gladys.

    Julie Keim is the owner of Compass Courses Maritime Training, one of only a handful of maritime training facilities in Washington State. Julie's company is the only woman-owned company in Washington's maritime industry. She has been operating at a loss for the past six months. Her business is mainly hands-on classroom and in-person training only. This curriculum doesn't translate well to virtual classes. She doesn't see an uptick in business any time soon.

    Our next stop was at All Care Pet Hospital with owners John Wong and Greg CombsJohn Wong 1 in Mukilteo. John explained that business has been down 15% while at the same time, they had to increase staff to accommodate the new COVID-19 safety protocols. Pet owners could no longer bring their pets into the clinic. A technician has to answer the phone when the client arrives, then walk out to the car and do the pet intake outside. Conversations between pet owners, doctor, and technicians are all done by phone, which adds time to the process. John and Greg are currently dealing with an employee who has COVID-19 symptoms, and even though they got tested right away, their test result is still not available after five days of waiting. This puts a burden on the clinic and their entire team. Future Boeing layoffs will continue to adversely affect their clinic and surrounding small businesses in Mukilteo. They are hoping for an effective vaccine to come on the market soon.

    Our third and last stop was with David Brown, owner of Elements Massage in Lynnwood

    His business had to shut down on March 16 when the statewide retail regulations were put in place, and it was the right thing to do to slow the spread. He luckily encouraged his 29 employees to immediately apply for unemployment, since no one knew the extent and duration of the closure. After the initial chaos, the state changed massage businesses to be regulated under the health provider guidelines, which allowed Elements Massage to re-open in Phase 2.

    David has seen a 50% drop in future bookings. In the last five months, his business has provided almost 5,000 massage services without any incidents of infection. Elements Massage has always followed disinfection and clean environment guidelines since it first opened its doors. Although David received a PPP loan, he is afraid to touch the funds because he's unsure of what the forgiveness rules truly will look like. David says that the PPP loan should be what Congress originally passed. He feels lucky that Elements Massage has already been a well-capitalized business, having opened seven years ago.

    Congressman Rick Larsen listened and empathized with all of the business owners. He told GSBA members that he'll take a closer look at the CERTS Act and push for more capital for small businesses, as well as continued deferment of bank loans through 2021. 

    GSBA thanks Rep. Larsen and Lindsey Webb for taking the time during such difficult circumstances to meet with GSBA members, hear their stories first-hand, and for continuing to advocate for small businesses in D.C.

  • GSBA Letter to the Seattle LGBTQ Commission

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO and Stephanie Dallas, Board Chair
    | Oct 30, 2020
    This letter was sent to the Seattle LGBTQ Commission, the office of Mayor Jenny Durkan, and the Seattle City Council on October 30, 2020.

    To the members of the Seattle LGBTQ Commission -

    For a commission charged with advising the Mayor, City Council, and city agencies on issues that affect the LGBTQ community, including acting as a bridge between the LGBTQ community and the City, the Seattle LGBTQ Commission failed its due diligence in voting to ask for Mayor Durkan’s resignation. The Commission appears not to have not done much, if any, outreach to the wider LGBTQ community, including GSBA, for input on such a serious decision. Certainly, before a community Commission takes such a controversial and potentially divisive vote, one would have expected that this was a decision reached with wide community input - including community organizations - plus a consensus of the entire Commission and not simply by a plurality of six votes out of the current fifteen sitting Commissioners. So, although GSBA is a nonpartisan organization that does not endorse candidates, we feel compelled to speak out against the lack of a fully inclusive and transparent process that occurred when you voted to ask the Mayor to resign.

    Seattle, as the rest of the country, is in the midst of the greatest health care crisis of our time, a perilous economic downturn, a divisive election season, and a national reckoning about systemic racism. Any one of these issues requires that all agenciestake their responsibility to listen to their constituencies and look for ways to bring communities together to address such critical issues. Instead, our LGBTQ Commission made the decision to move forward with a decision that may not be representative of the majority of our community at best, and could be damaging and incredibly divisive at a time when we all are in need of thoughtful leadership.

    Public opinion is divided on the Mayor’s performance, including within the LGBTQ community. Whether you believe Mayor Durkan did right or wrong, you will find members of the community who praise her and others who criticize her handling of critical city issues, including those outlined by the Commission, i.e. the budget, police and City response to demonstrations, and homelessness.

    Everyone has the civic right to challenge our Mayor’s handling of any issue. However, Mayor Durkan is our duly elected Mayor in the last year of her term. The Washington Supreme Court already decided that the recall effort against Mayor Durkan had no merit. Here, the election is the process to decide whether to replace an elected official.

    In Seattle, we are fortunate to have an LGBTQ commission alongside the other commissions that provide a voice for our most marginalized communities. GSBA believes commissions are important, which is why we took a leadership role in creating Washington State’s first LGBTQ Commission. However, with a commission comes serious responsibility to do due diligence in thoughtfully representing the concerns of one’s community. GSBA does not believe that the Seattle LGBTQ Commission did so, when it took this vote to ask for Mayor Durkan’s resignation. It may be too late to change that vote, but it is never too late to start a more thoughtful process.
    For equality,

    Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO
    Stephanie Dallas, GSBA Board Chair
  • Get to know Oma Bap, Ready for Business Fund grant recipient

    by GSBA Staff
    | Oct 21, 2020

    First established in Bellevue in 2011, Oma Bap relocated its flagship location to the Central District in 2014, and opened its Capitol Hill location in the fall of 2019 at 11th Ave. and E. Olive St., across from Cal Anderson Park. The fast-casual restaurant shares traditional and contemporary Korean cuisine by specializing in customizable bibimbap dishes where guests select a base or rice, noodles, or salad; add proteins like pork belly or short ribs; and then choose toppings like kimchi, fried egg, sauces, pickled radishes, and more.

    Oma Bap is one of the 65 small businesses selected to receive the first-ever Ready for Business Fund grants, a program founded by GSBA and Comcast Washington to support LGBTQ, BIPOC, and women-owned Seattle-area small businesses most impacted by the COVID-19 economic crisis.

    GSBA caught up with Oma Bap Owner Peter Pak to talk about Oma Bap's origins, owning a business located near the center of demonstrations, and what he loves about Capitol Hill.

    A3295C55-8B54-4133-B255-3DAFC9C05DC4GSBA: What makes Oma Bap's bibimbap so delicious? What inspired you to bring bibimbap and Korean cuisine to people in a fast-casual setting?

    Peter: About 10 years ago, I was inspired by the combination of the "Chipotle movement" that really revolutionized the fast-casual industry with offering freshly made customizable burritos, and acknowledging that the American palate was really starting to expand to other ethnic foods, especially within Asian cuisine. With both trends in mind, I wanted to create a "Chipotle" of Korean food that would be inviting to everyone that mainly centered around the traditional Korean dish bibimbap. What makes our dish so delicious is that you have a variety of combinations that you can choose from. We offer a variety of freshly prepared toppings and sauces as well as cauliflower rice for those looking for a healthier option.

    GSBA: How has Oma Bap pivoted to meet challenges brought about by the pandemic?

    Peter: When the pandemic hit, it was a shock to us all and we did not know what to expect. We were fortunate that our model was already set up to primarily offer takeout, so we did not have to make too many adjustments besides mandating all workers and customers to wear masks, routine temperature checks with our employees, and social distancing practices.

    GSBA: It's been a tumultuous year on Capitol Hill. Despite all the challenges as aA64A0105_Original small business owner, what are some of the things you like about being a part of the neighborhood?

    Peter: I have lived and worked in this neighborhood for about seven years now and love that there is such a strong community of support here. Despite these challenging times, both local and state government have offered no help at all, but it is nice that organizations such as GSBA and others in the area have offered their support.

    GSBA: How will being a Ready for Business grant recipient help your business?

    Peter: This grant will be a huge help to get our business back on track. Unfortunately six of our windows have been broken over the past couple of months and we have had to board our windows up again. As a result, our business has been negatively impacted because of the unattractiveness of being boarded up, and we look closed. We plan on using some of the money to paint a nice mural on our boards and use the rest to help with operational costs. 

    A64A2181GSBA: What's next for Oma Bap?

    Peter: We have been in business for about 10 years now and love being a part of this city and community. We hope that we can continue to operate our business for many more years to come and do our best to contribute back to our community.

    Oma Bap is open Monday - Saturday from 11:30 AM - 8:00 PM. Customers can place an order on site or order pick-up or delivery from Grubhub, UberEats, DoorDash, and Postmates.

  • Sixty-five LGBTQ-, BIPOC-, and women-owned small businesses receive first Ready for Business Fund grants

    by GSBA Staff
    | Oct 12, 2020

    Sixty-five BIPOC-, LGBTQ-, and women-owned small businesses across the Seattle Metropolitan Area have been selected out of a pool of over 500 applicants to be the first recipients of Ready for Business Fund grants. Co-founded by GSBA and Comcast Washington this August to address mounting financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ready for Business Fund has provided recipients with $2,500 grants in addition to marketing and administrative wrap-around services, courtesy Comcast’s Effectv program. The grant application closed on Sept. 4, and the recipients were selected by a committee consisting of business, government, and community leaders throughout the area. 

    The recipients include:

    - Alchemists & Architects, LLC
    - Amano Seattle
    - BeUnique Agency
    - Boujee Food & Things
    - Cafe Pettirosso
    - Cake House, LLC
    - Century Ballroom, LLC
    - Chloe Collyer Photo
    - Choice Produce
    - Communion Restaurant & Bar
    - Dirty Dog Hot Dogs
    - Downtown House Cleaning 
    - El Mercado Latino
    - Elliana Pauline Lewis
    - Emazing Photography
    - Emerson Salon
    - Epiphanies of Equity, LLC
    - Ethio Mini Market
    - Fit Bar Superfood Cafe
    - Fruitsuper
    - Fuji Sushi Seattle
    - Get It Done Hair Salon & Spa
    - Hahu Abissina Restaurant, LLC
    - Hot Chicks Dog Walking Co.
    - Idman Childcare
    - Jackson General Store/Rimna’s Market
    - Juice Emporium
    - Khongkaew, Inc.
    - Koplin Del Rio Gallery
    - Los Agaves
    - Meekong Bar
    - Mi La Cay Restaurant
    - Mountainfoxgoods
    - Namasgay, Inc.
    - Nile’s Edge Healing Arts
    - Northwest Polite Society
    - Nue
    - Oma Bap
    - Perfect Pronouns
    - Perri Rhoden
    - The London Plane
    - Queer Bar
    - Ramseur
    - Reggie’s Computer Repair
    - Resistencia Coffee
    - Retail Therapy
    - Seeking Kombucha
    - Simone Shaw Style Studio
    - Sleaq S and S
    - Smith Law, LLC
    - Stock & Pantry
    - SUSU Dessert Bar
    - Tai Tung, Inc.
    - Taurus Ox
    - Temple Pastries
    - Thai Star
    - The Art Sob
    - The Wildrose
    - Trap Vinyasa
    - Two Doors Down
    - Virago Gallery
    - We Free Hearts
    - Yolo West Coast

    Over $200,000 was raised within one month for the first round of recipients, with Comcast Washington seeding the Fund with a $50,000 gift in early August, which was followed by an additional $50,000 investment from Comcast in September. T-Mobile contributed $25,000, while AT&T, BECU, Grace Church Seattle, Harborstone Credit Union, Microsoft, Puget Sound Energy, Sanctuary Church Seattle, Seattle Storm, US Bank, Verity Credit Union, and several more generous community members also donated to the Fund.

    With well over 100 Seattle businesses permanently shuttering their doors since the pandemic began earlier this spring, the Ready for Business Fund seeks to help small businesses owned by marginalized community members survive the economic downturn. Fund applicants reported devastating impact, including up to 85 percent loss of annual revenue, being forced to lay off their entire staff, and significant loss of business due to proximity to demonstrations in Seattle. Businesses surveyed about the grants said the funding will be used on necessities such as paying for rent, bills, payroll, and groceries.

    A second round of funding and grant distribution will soon be announced. The 435 applicants who weren’t selected during the first round of funding will remain in the pool to be considered as new grants are issued.

  • Operation Vote Safe

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Oct 05, 2020
    As November draws closers, Washington businesses are coming together to help local and state election officials deliver a safe and secure election this fall. GSBA has partnered with Business For America on the nonpartisan Operation Vote Safe to help support efforts in the Evergreen State.

    Business for America is mobilizing a national network of civic-minded businesses to assist election administrators in their communities and across the country. Businesses will be invited to support elections by providing:

    • Employee volunteers. Poll workers and ballot counting operations.
    • Equipment and supplies. Safety supplies like PPE and hand sanitizer, equipment like envelope stuffers and dropboxes, and office supplies like pens and sorting bins.
    • Facilities and logistics. Polling places in empty offices or warehouses, fleet vehicles for ballot pickup, ballot dropboxes on company property.
    • Tech. Pro bono election technology and cybersecurity assistance.
    • Communications. Voter guides, social media content, public service announcements.
    In Washington, REI and Outdoor Research are providing PPE and raincoats for poll workers.

    While our state has been vote-by-mail for years, and we know that the systems are in place to handle the volume of ballots safely and securely, there are still some areas where elections officials could use some specific assistance. Secretary of State Kim Wyman recommends sharing messages from the national #TrustedInfo2020 education effort to combat misinformation. King County Director of Elections Julie Wise asks that business do all they can to encourage their patron to vote. King County even has an ambitious goal in 2020 of reaching 90% turnout!

    To get more involved and pointed to the areas that need it most, contact Richard EildlinYou can find also your local county elections department here.
  • Thank you, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    by Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO
    | Sep 28, 2020

    Thank you. To the very honorable Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I thank you for literally giving your last breath to your life’s commitment to achieve equality under the law. Thank you for making it possible for our daughters and all our children, to have access to equal opportunity. Thank you for understanding that this document, our US Constitution, that is supposed to be the underpinning of our Republic, was founded on the premise that equality was only guaranteed for some. Thank you for taking on the daunting task of chipping away at its inherent injustices, to remove barriers for those who were left out.

    Thank you for giving us years of hope, that if we all kept eyes on one prize, the pursuit of justice for all, we will actually be able to change a union created to benefit a few, to one truly meant to be a  perfect union for all. To you, during our Days of Awe, right before Yom Kippur, from one Jewish feminist sister from Brooklyn to another, I hope you can now rest in peace.

    Your mighty battles against injustice are now ours to wage. In your honor, to your memory, the greatest tribute we can give, is for us all to pledge to continue to work for that world in which we can all feel safe, respected for who we are and able to receive equal justice under the law.

    In sadness and profound gratitude,

    Louise Chernin (She/her)
    GSBA President & CEO
  • GSBA Hosts Statewide Advocacy Meeting

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Sep 21, 2020
    On Friday, September 18 GSBA hosted a virtual convening of LGBTQ advocates from around Washington State to meet with our LGBTQ legislative caucus and talk about what the 2021 legislative session could look like.

    This year, the annual conversation was facilitated by Monisha Harrell of Equal Rights Washington and Erick Seelbach of Pierce County AIDS Foundation, and included nearly 75 community leaders from across the state, representing Clark, Franklin, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Walla Walla, Whatcom, and Yakima counties. Senators Marko Liias, Jamie Pedersen (Seattle), Emily Randall (Gig Harbor), and Claire Wilson (Federal Way) and Representatives Nicole Macri (Seattle) and Skyler Rude (Walla Walla) joined the community groups to share their expectations for the upcoming session.

    It should come as no surprise that everyone expects the 2021 session to be unlike any other. It is unlikely that people will be able to gather in person for testimony and lobbying their legislators, but there are not clear directions yet on how the public will be invited to weigh in on issues. The budget will be first and foremost on everyone's minds, including tough discussions on how to balance immediate needs with new revenue and/or budget cuts. At the same time, the LGBTQ caucus agreed that questions of equity are at the top of the list when it comes to responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis. 

    Going into the meeting, the community had identified a number of issues that were of the highest priority, including: prioritizing black trans women and two spirit folks, increasing access to healthcare (and specifically for trans people), care for LGBTQ seniors and youth, police reform, housing advocacy, LGBTQ-inclusive COVID recovery efforts, defending against budget cuts to social services, and LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum development.

    Washington State is lucky to have a vibrant statewide network of LGBTQ organizations, activists, and leaders with expertise across many issue areas. Undoubtedly the LGBTQ community will have its work cut out for it in 2021. GSBA is currently working on finalizing a legislative agenda for next year, to be released prior to the end of the year. We look forward to sharing the voices of our partners around the state in coming months to elaborate on some of these issues.
  • After 19 Amazing Years, GSBA President & CEO Louise Chernin is Retiring

    by GSBA President & CEO Louise Chernin, GSBA Board Chair Stephanie Dallas
    | Sep 18, 2020

    GSBA Members & Community,

    A decision may be both right and difficult at the same time, which is true of my decision to retire as President & CEO of GSBA, a position I have held for nearly 19 years. It is not an overstatement to say that serving in a leadership role in GSBA has been one of the most impactful, fulfilling, and life-changing experiences of my life. 

    louise video title

    Given the strength and visionary leadership in GSBA, with its outstanding Board, currently under the expert leadership of Stephanie Dallas; an extraordinary and talented staff, that works tirelessly on behalf of our small business members and students and a membership committed to doing good through business, I step down, confident that GSBA is in good hands. As for me, I am not going anywhere. This is my community, which I love. My role is changing but not my commitment to social justice.

    The Board of Directors has appointed a search committee of GSBA Board and community members, which will be led by Board Treasurer Carolyn Hojaboom. The committee will oversee a national search to ensure an inclusive and successful recruiting process for the next President & CEO. We have retained Campbell & Company, a national consulting firm for nonprofits, to lead the search process. 

    Click here to read the job description and learn more about the role.

    This is an incredible professional opportunity, please spread the word to a wide range of diverse, prospective candidates and encourage them to apply. You may send nominations and applications to

    We value your input and want to hear from you!

    GSBA is in place to welcome new leadership during this time of great challenge and huge opportunity to address the economic disparities within our state and nation. GSBA is stable, sound, and well positioned to continue the important work that still needs to be done. Please stay tuned for an invitation early next year to introduce our new President & CEO to the community. 

    For the future,

    Louise Chernin (She/her)
    GSBA President & CEO

    A Message from Stephanie Dallas, GSBA Board Chair:

    Stephanie DallasWe are beyond fortunate to have had Louise Chernin as our President & CEO for these last 19 years, leading us with her passion, experience, dedication, vision, and clarity to bring GSBA to a place of strength, depth, and breadth as an organization. Louise is responsible for an enormous share of that which constitutes the very heart and soul of GSBA, built with her unwavering commitment to our mission and to our community.

    Happily, we continue that good fortune with Louise as we look forward to her sustained involvement with organizations fighting for social justice and economic equity, which includes her continued commitment to GSBA. She has never been afraid to speak out for equity and inclusion, and in fact, she typically leads the charge. Knowing Louise, I trust that will not change and she will continue to inspire and lead all of us in the coming years.

    I am pleased to share that the GSBA Board put in place a succession plan many years ago, and we have already implemented key elements of the plan, including formation of a CEO Search Committee and the hiring of a search firm, Campbell & Co.

    The Search Committee is comprised of Board and community members who represent GSBA’s varied stakeholders. I am excited and grateful for their eagerness to put in the considerable time, thought and dedication it takes to lead the Board’s search for GSBA’s new leader. The Search Committee Members include (* denotes current Board member):

           - Carolyn Hojaboom*, Hojaboom Consulting, Search Committee Chair
           - Carrie Carson*, Point B, GSBA Scholarship Fund Chair
           - Brandon Chun*, Lavender Rights Project
           - Stephanie Dallas*, GSBA Board Chair
           - Jennifer Divine, Miller Nash Graham & Dunn, former GSBA Board member
           - Susan Fuller*, Law Office of Susan K. Fuller, PLLC
           - Isyss Honnen, TRANSform Washington, GSBA Scholarship Fund Alum
           - Dustin O’Quinn*, Lane Powell, Liaison from the GSBA DEI Task Force
           - Tristen Pamphlet-Gardner, King County, Former GSBA Staffmember
           - Jay Peterson*, Blue Wave Political Partners
           - Mona Smith, Mona Smith, PLLC, Former GSBA Board Chair
           - Steven Wakefield, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (ret.)

    Additionally, we are including input from our 16 GSBA staff members to make sure their important voices and perspectives are included. A BIG thank you goes to each of them and to the Search Committee members.

    I am also proud to announce that GSBA Deputy Director, Mark Rosén, will step in as Acting President & CEO if we do not have someone in the position before Louise completes her time at the helm. Everyone knows Mark as a thoughtful and passionate leader for GSBA, and we are thrilled that he is willing to serve in this way. This will provide a smooth transition period, should we need him in the role, most likely no longer than a few months.

    In the meantime, we will continue our work to lift small business, our scholars, and the LGBTQ community, giving voice to social and economic equity. We look forward to our next chapter with new voices and new faces in our future as GSBA strides forth into the next decade!


    Stephanie Dallas (She/her)
    Board Chair, GSBA Board of Directors

  • Meet the Ready for Business Fund Selection Committee

    by GSBA Staff
    | Sep 15, 2020

    When we announced the Ready for Business Fund in partnership with Comcast Washington, we knew we were going to need a skilled group to read through and evaluate the applications received from LGBTQ-, BIPOC-, and women-owned businesses in need. With over 500 applications received, these thirteen business, city, and community leaders have risen to the task and will be working to select over 60 recipients for the first-ever Ready for Business Fund grants.

    Applications not selected will remain in the pool and will be considered for the next round of funding taking place later this fall.

    julioJulio Cortes (he/him)
    City of Everett | Senior Communications Officer
    "I'm the Senior Communications Officer at the City of Everett and also manage our City marketing efforts. The pandemic has had a devastating effect on our economies and businesses of all kinds are feeling the impact. Now more than ever we must come together and show empathy and support to our business community. I look forward to playing a role in the economic recovery efforts led by this team."

    gunnerGunner Scott (he/him)
    Making Waves Coaching & Consulting
    Gunner Scott is a Gen X Queer/Bi FTM trans activist who lives in West Seattle with his two cranky cats, leprechaun husband, and a Maltese rescue dog who thinks she's the Queen. By day he works in local government and by night, he is building the capacity of individual clients and organizations to cultivate a climate in which meaningful change thrives. He is excited to bring his thirty years of experience in the non-profit sector including grant-making and executive level non-profit management, to support small businesses impacted by this global pandemic through GSBA.

    crystalCrystal Gamon (she/her)
    Senior Property Manager – Urban Renaissance Group
    Born and raised in Seattle, Crystal has an emotional connection to the community and deep desire to help it thrive. Crystal can often be found volunteering her time with several local organizations and lending her voice to advocate for those in need. Crystal and her wife currently reside in Mill Creek with their three daughters.

    betoBeto Yarce (he/him)
    Ventures | Executive Director

    Beto is responsible for maintaining community engagement, promoting Ventures’ mission, marketing and securing new funding sources to support program growth, set organizational culture; lead all staff to accomplish the organization’s mission, adhere to core values, and maintain positive work environment. Beto is also a member of the GSBA Board of Directors.

    rozRoz Edison (she/her)
    Marination/Super Six | Owner

    Roz is the co-owner of Marination and Super Six. When she is not serving as the "Director of Many Things" for her company, she enjoys travel, spicy food, and a nice, long Law and Order marathon.

    tristenTristen Pamphlet Gardner (he/him)

    King County | Policy Liaison

    Tristen Pamphlet Gardner is an environmental scientist and a community organizer, and is a Policy Liaison at Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County, where he works on increasing collaboration between community and government groups and improving local policy. He is passionate about helping organizations and people collaborate to improve the outcomes for the target population and help community members amplify their voices to be heard and understood more effectively.

    karindaKarinda Harris (she/her)
    GSBA – Capitol Hill Business Alliance | Business Development Manager

    "My personal and professional lives are grounded in community involvement, so I am proud to join GSBA in this effort to uplift Black, Indigenous, POC, and LGBTQ owned businesses most impacted by COVID-19."

    lizLiz Dunn (she/her)

    Dunn & Hobbes, LLC | Owner

    Liz is the owner of Dunn & Hobbes LLC, a local real estate development and property management company. Liz is passionate about supporting other entrepreneurs; more than half of her retail and restaurant tenants are women-owned, BIPOC-owned, or both, and she is an active angel investor in tech, alternative energy, cannabis and consumer-facing companies.

    deaunteDeaunte Damper (he/him, they/them)
    NAACP King County LGBTQ Chair

    "With so many things impacting our community I’m honored to be joining GSBA and Comcast stepping forward to provide the Community with this resource."

    randyRandy Card (he/him)

    "Some of you may know me from my banking days. I've been very involved with GSBA thru various activities and events. Currently, I'm a recent undergrad in becoming a hearing instrument specialist in the audiology medical field. I enjoy the great outdoors, spending time with my family and friends, and being active in our LGBTQ community. I'm excited to participate in the "Ready for Business" selection committee because I love supporting our local small businesses, and I want to help. Now, as a community, there is no better time than to help our small businesses that struggling in today's climate." "Unity is strength...when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved." - Mattie J.T Stepanek

    dominiqueDominique Stephens (she/her)
    City of Seattle

    "Native of Seattle, ensuring all I do is for the growth and honor of BIPOC LGBTQ communities."

    taraTara Jensen (She/Her)
    Quantum3 Group, LLC | Data Operations Manager

    "I have been wanting to get more involved in the LGBTQ community and luckily I have a great contact in Ilona Lohrey (GSBA VP of Membership & Programs) to get me started. I work in Kirkland at Quantum3 Group, LLC, and play softball with Rain(bow) City Softball. I am involved in the LGBTQ community in a limited way and given our current climate, I would love to do more!"

    SheriaSheria Tookas (She/her)
    Wells Fargo Bank

  • Incubator: Summer 2020 Cohort

    by Levi Coffin, Business Training Specialist & Grant Manager
    | Sep 14, 2020


    Manuel Torres (he/him, they/them) 
    Manifest Your Will (Instagram)
    Manuel Torres is a local artist who grew up in Yakima, WA and a child of immigrants. They graduated from Western Washington University with a B.A. in Visual Journalism with studies in French and Spanish. Manuel is the first person in their family to graduate from university, and obtain a professional degree.

    Manuel selects each crystal with purpose in mind + hand wraps every pendant. One-of-a-kind crystal companions wrapped in reclaimed copper – electrical wiring remnants given new life. This metal is said to amplify the energy of the crystal. A classic leather cord with a sliding knot suspends the pendant.

    Sam I'Am
    Perfect Pronouns (Website/Instagram)
    Sam I'Am is a nonbinary performance artist paving the way for pronoun visibility for all through their small business Perfect Pronouns, selling enamel pronoun pins out of the tiny home they built themself.


    Positively Positive (they/them) 
    Positively Positive Education Productions LLC (Website/Instagram)
    Positively Positive facilitated programs and activities for children and youth as a summer camp counselor for over 15 years in different leadership capacities. They completed in-service sessions on diversity and creative writing, develop curriculum, tutored low-income and atrisk youth, and participated in teaching classrooms for Youth Speaks Seattle as a Youth Spokes Advisory Member and a mentor. They allocated support for children impacted by HIV/AIDS, facilitated creative art activities, and delegated excellent problem solving skills as a camp counselor for Rise ‘N Shine Seattle, WA. They earned a bachelors in sociology and a graduate certificate in environmental education from Islandwood.

    The founder of Positively Positive Education Productions, LLC is {multiply marginalized} black, queer, transgender, HIV+ since birth, Asexual, Aromantic and a survivor of childhood violence. Positively Positive is {asexual} “Ace” typically they do not experience sexual feelings, desires nor are sexually attracted to anyone. Positively Positive is {aromantic} “Aro” because typically they have no interests or desires for romantic relationships. 

    Positively Positive is {one of the only artists in the entire world} that has spoken word poetry, hip-hop music, and workshops about {living with HIV since birth} and about a person who is aromantic, asexual, black, transgender and queer. {Asexuals} and {Aromantics} are a demographic {part of the LGBTQ community} missing from the overall conversation so Positively Positive bridges that gap.


    Emily Alexandra (she/her)
    RE:BIND / REBIND (Website)
    Emily Rose is a trans woman entrepreneur that has innovated in the media space, tackling organic growth head on and employing strategies outside the confines of the typical ad-supported / metric dominated market. She has a background in video / audio content  production, streaming, and writing. RE:BIND is a Video Games Critique & Media outlet, small publishing house


  • Incubator: Spring 2020 Cohort

    by Levi Coffin, Business Training Specialist & Grant Manager
    | Sep 14, 2020
    Andrew "Ace" Houston (he/him)
    House Cosmopolitan (Website/Instagram/Twitter)
    Andrew Grant Houston, known by his friends as Ace, is an architect and urban designer who is passionate about changing the way people live in cities and is focused on creating places where individuals thrive together and culture is celebrated. A mixed-race and queer individual, his appreciation of culture also expands to his interests: he loves eating all types of cuisine, enjoys foreign music and films, and speaks four languages. You can usually find him around Seattle listening to new music, coming up with a new design idea, or trying a new restaurant. Ace is a resident of Seattle, however as a 5th generation Texan also spends time in his adopted hometown of Austin.

    House Cosmopolitan is an architecture and design house that is committed to unique and engaging projects that improve city life. Through the creation and reinterpretation of spaces and experiences, the practice aims to provide places where people feel like they belong and see themselves represented. 

    Gerard Miller (they/them)
    Altared Roots (Instagram)
    Gerard has 15+ years experience as a community organizer, 10 years experience in crafting hair & body products, and 10+ years experience as a nonprofit service provider. They are a skilled thespian with experience on the stage, in playwriting, and with technical theatre. A multifaceted performer, Gerard is also known for telling great stories and sharing information in a relatable and accessible way. Gerard has a heart for the people and hopes to live a life of service to their communities. They are a musician, dancer, poet, storyteller and educator. 

    The owner and operator of Altared Roots, Gerard seeks to help others take care of themselves body and mind through their line of holistic body care products , birthwork, and education offerings. A passion for healing and a deep respect for nature and tradition guide the work of Altared Roots. 
    Altared Roots seeks to help others take care of themselves body and mind through its line of holistic herbal remedies & body care products, movement workshops, birthwork, and community education offerings to build up the individual and the culture. Started in 2012 as Wazojan Enterprises, we aim to bridge gaps in knowledge and in services, especially for historically under-represented groups. 

    As much as possible, we use organic and fair-trade supplies from local vendors in an effort to reduce our energy footprint and support the move toward resource independence for marginalized communities. At Altared Roots, we pride ourselves on providing the best possible services, as well as products with the highest-quality ingredients. What goes on your body goes in your body, and can impact your physical health and your mental/emotional well-being.