GSBA releases new Guide
GSBA releases new Guide
by Tim Peter - SGN Staff Writer

The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) published its 27th annual Guide earlier this month. With more than 1,000 members and over 35,000 copies in print, this is the largest GLBT business directory in the United States, said Louise Chernin, GSBA's executive director. Producing the annual Guide is a quarter-million-dollar project, she added, with an all-volunteer committee, chaired by Karin Nilsson, working to put it together.

Chernin said the Guide was first published internally, but was later turned over to Emerald City Arts, which is now Flying House Productions. About seven years ago, the group decided to resume publishing in-house. The Guide is designed by Matt Ketcham of Ketcham Design and published by Michael Kuntz of MWK Design. Jerome Bader, director of marketing, is responsible for selling the ads. Chernin added that Ketcham and Kuntz are on contract, but also donate a lot of their time.

"The first edition was a real small pamphlet intended to find each other and support each other," said Chernin. "We started the Guide the first year we began, in 1981. That's amazing, I think."

Thirty-three men started the Chamber in 1981. Original GSBA members included Michael Schemm, accountant; Harley Broe, GSBA's first Lesbian board member, CPA and co-owner of City People's Mercantile; Tim Bradbury, attorney and former judge; Peter Hiatt, real estate agent; Don Moreland, co-chair of Fighting For the Majority. Most of the original members are still active in the organization, Chernin said, with 40 percent of current members being women. Membership includes small and mid-size businesses as well as large corporations, including Microsoft.

One thing that sets GSBA apart from other Chambers of Commerce is its scholarship program. Chernin said, "We feel it's important to support the next generation of leaders, which is why we have the scholarship program. Since 1990, we've awarded $800,000 in scholarships to LGBT and allied undergraduate students in Washington State."

GSBA's mission is to "combine business development, leadership and social action to expand economic opportunities for the LGBT community and those who support equality for all."

"It's not just about business," Chernin said, "but also for creating leaders and [working on] social justice issues. That's how we differ from other business chambers, because we're LGBT."

"If we could find each other and support each others' businesses," Chernin said, "we would have more economic clout, and we could use that as a platform to work toward social justice for GLBT [people and issues]. The more successful we are, the more we use the Guide and get business referred by it, we keep the dollar in the community and strengthen our opportunities, which gives us position in the community."

Other GLBT communities around the country are also using GSBA as a model. Chernin added that GLBT chambers in Dallas and Chicago just created their first business directories, copied from Seattle's. She said that they were so impressed with the GSBA's Guide that they used it to create their own.