The GSBA Blog


  • Meet Karinda Harris, GSBA Business Development Manager

    | Sep 03, 2020
    karinda 2Karinda (She/her) is excited to join GSBA as a Business Development Manager, focused on the Capitol Hill Business Alliance while Christina Arrington takes a temporary leave to focus on her family. Initially introduced to GSBA during her time in the Mayor’s Office - then connected with GSBA, as a member, during her role as Seattle Community Manager with New Seasons Market - Karinda is looking forward to impacting ongoing efforts to support and strengthen the business and overarching community in Capitol Hill.

    Karinda Harris is a proud lifelong Seattleite, having grown up in the Beacon Hill and Madrona neighborhoods. Led by these words and inspired by her grandparents, "If I can help somebody as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain," Karinda is committed to improving the lives of others and positively impacting community.

    In 2007, she earned her Bachelor of Business Administration in finance from Howard University and earned her Master of Public Administration from Seattle University in 2012. During her graduate studies, she worked as the Betty J. Narver policy fellow for the Washington State Budget & Policy Center, and as a policy intern in the Director’s Office of Seattle Public Utilities. She’s also a graduate of the Institute for a Democratic Future (IDF), a six-month fellowship, focusing on public policy and emerging issues, the legislative and political process, campaigns and elections, and geographic issues around Washington state. Karinda recently worked in community relations and external affairs roles for New Seasons Market and the City of Seattle, Office of the Mayor. She is a connector, and her passion is the intersection of social capital, strategy, and social impact. She eventually sees herself returning to government in a role where she can truly use her voice and skills to make positive and impactful change.

    Karinda is most proud of her community involvement. She is an active member of the Seattle Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., serves on the Board of Trustees for Neighborhood House, a member of the Policy Leadership Group at the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and volunteers on the Advisory Council for Garfield Community Center. Most importantly, Karinda believes in giving back through mentorship and is an active mentor and connector for young ladies in her community. GSBA Members and Capitol Hill community members can reach Karinda here.
  • Meet GSBA Member Lindsey T.H. Jackson, Founder of LTHJ GLOBAL & Host of "Keeping It Real"

    by GSBA Staff
    | Aug 25, 2020

    GSBA thrilled to shine the spotlight on Lindsey T.H. Jackson Global (LTHJ GLOBAL), a Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI)-focused coaching program for individuals and businesses. LTHJ Global is leading the second wave of DEI training. Their program focuses on requiring leaders to commit to real self-interrogation, measurement, and consistent action that changes the face of the business landscape.

    Photo Shoot- LTHJ & PWF.November 16th, 2013.0224 (1)Lindsey T.H. Jackson business has become her passion project, and has poured 10 years into it. She has known since the age of 19 that this was the work she wanted to be doing: bringing leaders together to grow, learn, and self-interrogate. Lindsey wanted to see more Black women launching and scaling large enterprises, and she thought it “made sense to walk my own talk.”

    Today, LTHJ GLOBAL has grown into a powerful promoter of DEI coaching. Their purpose is to “burn down the imagined, real, and systemic barriers that get in the way of reaching our individual and collective highest potential.” When working with organizations, instead of employing a one-size-fits-all approach to diversity training, they use the Enneagram—a system of interconnected personality types—to help teams work through individual blocks to diversity initiatives and create space for shared understanding, education, and growth. They work with innovative leaders who are well past looking for sound-bytes but instead ready to spur real change that disrupts the face of their industry.

    Over the past few months, you might have seen Lindsey as the host of Keeping It Real, a webinar series formed in partnership between GSBA and Lindsey, designed to explore health and wellness topics for leaders. As time went on, the program grew to provide a venue for conversation surrounding the global pandemic, racial injustice, and allyship and social justice in the workplace. Lindsey explains,

    “In fact, one of my favorite moments to date on the show was a rare and candid moment with GSBA President & CEO, Louise Chernin. One of the great things about our show is the ability to create a 'friends sitting on the couch speaking openly' vibe. Well on this episode, the topic was the nonprofit landscape during COVID-19, Louise is unabridged and raw. There's this powerful two or three minutes where she just lays it out, she names everything from white supremacy culture to the failures of our government to protect those most marginalized. I don't think I took a breath the entire time she was speaking.”

    To learn more about LTHJ GOBAL and their programming, you can find them online at lindseythjackson.com; on Facebook; or on Instagram. Stay tuned for Keeping It Real's upcoming Fall episodes!

  • Support the U.S. Postal Service

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
    | Aug 24, 2020
     

    Members of the Washington State federal delegation,

    The efficient functioning of the U.S. Postal Service must be strongly defended.

    On behalf of GSBA: Washington's LGBTQ chamber of commerce and our 1,400 members across the state, we urge you to stand up strongly to defend the operations of our postal service over partisan politics.

    Despite Postmaster DeJoy's defenses of his actions before Congress today, his actions to dismantle high-capacity sorting machines around the country and slow down service strongly appear to be deliberate efforts to interfere with our general election, which has only been confirmed by President Trump's own words. We know that Washington State's elections bodies have carried out universal vote-by-mail for years, and that thankfully our state is ahead of much of the rest of the country in the current circumstances. But the exemplary work of our state elections officials also relies on the dependability of the USPS.

    In a time when so much commerce has shifted online and to deliveries over in-person shopping, the efficient functioning of the national mail service is critical for our small businesses to stay afloat. There are already too many stories of perishable goods rotting in sorting centers, prescriptions not arriving in time, and bills and payments arriving late. Several of our members have reported that medication for people living with HIV/AIDS is being delayed to the point where it is a threat to their health. A GSBA member in Snohomish County is one of the many farmers who have received crate-loads of dead chicks because of the delays. Every day this continues harms all Americans. Claims that the deactivation of sorting machines and slowing service delivery increase the efficiency of the postal service are demonstrably false and must be reversed.

    Please take every step necessary to restore American's faith in our constitutionally mandated postal service.

    Louise Chernin 
    GSBA President & CEO


     
  • GSBA Endorses APPROVE Referendum 90

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Aug 17, 2020
     
    The GSBA Board of Directors voted unanimously to endorse the APPROVE campaign for Referendum 90. This is a ballot measure that will be voted on in November 2020.

    A vote to approve Referendum 90 supports allowing Senate Bill 5395 to take effect, thereby requiring public schools to provide comprehensive sexual health education for all students and requiring students to be excused if requested by their parents.

    GSBA strongly supported SB 5395 for the last few years as it made its way through the legislative process. Having inclusive sex education that positively reflects the lives of LGBTQ people is critical for our populations, and sorely lacking without this bill. Young people need access to information and resources about healthy relationships to understand how to respect personal boundaries, ask for consent, and learn how to say and receive a 'no.' Young people who have quality sex education are less likely to participate in risky behavior, experience unintended pregnancy, or get a sexually transmitted infection. All information included in this curriculum is age-appropriate, and parents can opt their children out of the lessons.

    GSBA joins the Approve campaign with partners such as the ACLU of Washington, Asian Counseling and Referral Service, Equal Rights Washington, Gay City, Gender Justice League, Ingersoll Gender Center, King County Sexual Assault Prevention Task Force, League of Women Voters, Legal Voice, Lifelong, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, PFLAG, Pierce County AIDS Foundation, Planned Parenthood, Tacoma Rainbow Center, Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network, UTOPIA Seattle, the WA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the WA Public Health Association, and Youthcare.

    Click here to learn more about the Approve R-90 Campaign.


  • Seattle Small Business Need Support Now

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
    | Aug 17, 2020
     
    This letter was sent to City of Seattle officials on August 17.

    Mayor Durkan and Members of the Seattle City Council,
     
    With the City Council's amending of their spending plan yesterday in CB 119860, we are writing to ask that Seattle's leadership work together to get the critical supports within that bill in the hands of those who need it as soon as possible. Let us not let our commitment to Seattle's small businesses waver precisely when it is needed most.
     
    We understand and appreciate your caution as the City's leaders in how the rainy day fund is treated. Right now it is the rainiest of days. Small business are on the brink of disappearing, taking with them the precious jobs, the culture of our neighborhoods, and tax revenue that the City so desperately needs. We certainly wish that the Small Business Stabilization Fund could be increased by an order of magnitude, but the funding allocated in this bill is what we have to work with in a time when everything is stretched to the limit.
     
    GSBA worked for months to help craft spending packages that would provide the assistance that Seattle's small business need right now. The Small Business Stabilization Fund in particular is the most needed piece of that - flexible cash grants. Consistently across all surveys, our small businesses say that this flexible cash is what they need above all else. With the restrictions imposed by the Washington State Constitution, we understand that the funding available for this purpose is also quite limited. That is why the funds allocated as part of CB 119860 are so essential.
     
    Our small businesses are in dire straits. We know that the Small Business Stabilization Fund will only be able to help a fraction of applicants, but that help is vital. The other buckets of emergency relief are likewise critical for some of the neediest populations in Seattle - housing assistance, food security, support for immigrants and refugees who have been denied other government assistance. The rainy day fund is for emergencies, and this certainly qualifies as the greatest of emergencies. If this assistance does not arrive for those in need, we fear that its intended recipients - and especially our small businesses - may not be around for the next round of budget debates.
     
    Thank you for your efforts to steward the City through perhaps the most difficult budget cycle of its history. We urge you all to implement the appropriated relief funding as intended, to deliver critical support now when it is most needed.

    Louise Chernin
    GSBA President & CEO



     
  • Statement on Resignation of Chief Best

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
    | Aug 16, 2020
     
    Hearing of Chief Best’s abrupt retirement generated shock, sadness, and grave concern over the process and how the decisions were reached by our Council. This letter is not to defend the actions of our Seattle Police Department during the protests on Capitol Hill, but to register our surprise and disappointment at recent events. 

    GSBA has consistently demonstrated our commitment to addressing systemic racism in all our institutions, including in the police and justice departments. We strongly support the demilitarization of the police department and, as ever, look forward to working with City leaders to address the need for change. However, these issues do not erase the dedicated service of a 28-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department. Carmen Best devoted most of her professional life to protecting the safety and security of the City of Seattle, its citizens, and visitors. Her importance, contributions, and significance to this city have been well documented by multiple associations, organizations, and individuals. 

    GSBA and its members have been grateful beneficiaries of Chief Best’s focus and efforts to build community between the SPD and the LGBTQ population. Long before she was Police Chief, she proactively worked to create understanding and commonality among those whom might otherwise have been less inclined.

    Chief Best was a well-respected police officer who rose through the ranks, with a stellar record, and support from both her community and her rank and file officers, earned over decades of service. That makes it all the more shocking that in a city where there has been ample discussion during the last few years about the salaries of department executives related to their performance, the first time the Council passed a salary cut of a department head was by targeting that of the first Black woman to serve as Police Chief, and not conferring with her directly over that and other significant actions affecting the Department.

    We cannot change the events of the past week, but GSBA implores every member of the City Council and Mayor Durkan to put aside their differences to come together in a respectful manner to help our city weather the enormous obstacles we currently face. To succeed in dismantling racism in our City will require us all to work through difficult conversations to address the severe problems in our society and especially in our Police Department. There has never been a more critical time when responsible leadership is essential to help us create a more just and inclusive environment in our city.
    Louise Chernin
    GSBA President & CEO
  • GSBA Scholars & Alumni Go Virtual for Leadership Immersion Weekend

    by Taylor Briggs (He/Him, GSBA Scholarship Program Manager
    | Aug 11, 2020

    This past weekend, the GSBA Scholarship Fund gathered virtually for a re-imagined version of our annual Leadership Immersion Weekend. While we were all disappointed that we couldn't get together in person, connecting virtually still served the important purpose of reminding scholars that they are not alone during these incredibly trying times.

    This weekend’s workshop explored one of the most frequently asked questions that we receive from scholars: 

    How do I show up as my authentic self and stay true to my values, while working within inherently oppressive systems without getting burnt out?

    To receive this question time and time again is a painful reminder that our next generation of leaders are still entering institutions that don't always value their unique and brilliant identities and experiences as LGBTQ people, people of color, and people with disabilities. It's a reminder that even after 30 years of investing in LGBTQ and allied scholars, we still have a lot of work to do to amplify diverse voices speaking out against inequitable systems – because these systems are still alive and well.

    Workshop Screenshot 4While painful, hearing this question from our scholars is also inspiring. It's inspiring to see their passion to change our current reality and create a society that values us all. Beyond their passion, this question also illustrates their thoughtfulness and strategic thinking. Our scholars are in this work for the long-haul and know that if any change is going to come, we need to take care of ourselves and take care of each other.

    To help our scholars explore this question, we could think of no better group of people than our GSBA scholar alumni. Thirteen former GSBA Scholars (as well as one GSBA Board Member and two GSBA Business Members) stepped up to lead our eight breakout rooms. Scholars were broken up into groups based on their academic and career interests: Arts, Business & Communications, Education, Healthcare & STEM Research, Law & Public Policy, Mental Health & Social Services, Technology, and Trades. The hope was that these former GSBA Scholars and community members could lead honest conversations about what it has been like for them to work in each of these fields and give advice to the our current cohort.

    After attending this workshop, scholars shared:

    - Such a great experience! Not only incredibly inspirational hearing from peers and leaders in our community, but more community building – in seeing more queer-identifying folks being successful and staying true to themselves.

    - I learned that a lot of the same questions and worries that I have about my career are shared with others in my field- I'm not alone!

    - I learned about my own unlocked perseverance, resilience, and the validity of my experiences from hearing folks share theirs and how that led them to where they are today. Reminder that imposter syndrome is real, but shouldn't keep us down.

    - This workshop was impactful because the facilitators are young and out and queer and doing badass work so it was very inspiring!

    - I think I gained more insights on the importance of community and allies within advocacy, helping me become a leader who views a need for others as a strength rather than a weakness.

    - It was extremely refreshing to have facilitators that have experience in industry. It was very easy to relate over our shared experiences that are unique as trade workers. While a lot of information and advice can be universal to all disciplines, I feel that there are some things that are very unique to the experience of being in the trades that I would not have been able to discuss otherwise. They were both very knowledgeable individuals that I felt I could be myself around and I will be reaching out to them to keep in contact.

    As our workshop wrapped up, it was great to see scholars sharing their LinkedIn profiles and contact information with one another and asking when we could get together again. While GSBA Scholarship Fund workshops at their core are meant to create space for leadership development, they also serve the important purpose of connecting these incredible leaders with one another to build a community of support. We at GSBA could not be more excited to see the collective positive impact that this group of scholars continue to make.

    Special thank you to our breakout room facilitators: Elliat Graney-Saucke (2004 GSBA Scholar), Landyn Pan (2014-2016 GSBA Scholar), Kyle Rapiñan (2008-2011 & 2014 GSBA Scholar), Jamie Keene (2012 GSBA Scholar), Brianna Bragg (2008 & 2010 GSBA Scholar), Julian Chavez-Gamez (2012 & 2013 GSBA Scholar), Nathan Hoston (2009 GSBA Scholar), Freddy Mora (2009 & 2010 GSBA Scholar), Tanner Vea (2003 & 2004 GSBA Scholar), Anthony Yun (2012-2014 GSBA Scholar), Lisa Eytel (2011 GSBA Scholar), Nyka Osteen (2013 & 2014 GSBA Scholar), Alik Brundrett (2014 & 2015 GSBA Scholar), Eve Gourley (GSBA Board Member & Product Owner, Slalom Consulting), Eli Allison (Owner, Repair Revolution), and Morgan Mentzer (Co-founder, Lavender Rights Project).

  • July Updates to Washington State Overtime Rules: What You Need to Know

    by GSBA Staff
    | Aug 03, 2020

    As businesses prepare to move past COVID-19 and into budgets for the coming years, they will need to factor in the updated Washington state overtime rules going into effect this year. Beginning July 1, 2020, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) will begin a phased-in approach to the newly updated rules to Minimum Wage Act exemptions, with a plan to have them fully implemented by January 2028. The updated rules will require businesses to provide overtime, minimum wage and paid sick leave to some previously exempt employees. These updated rules impact outside salespeople, computer professionals and executive, administrative and professional (EAP) workers across the state.

    Over the next eight years, the State overtime rules will increase the minimum exempt salary to 2.5 times the state’s minimum wage, to do this they will have two groups, employers under 50 employees, and more than 50 employees, with all sizes of companies reaching that salary threshold by January 1, 2028. This increase to the salary threshold will be slowly phased in depending on the size of companies, with those businesses employing 50 or fewer people being the slowest slowest group to fully transition.

    In order to remain “exempt,” workers must typically be salaried and meet salary threshold requirements, as well as perform specified executive, administrative, professional, outside sales or computer professional job duties as defined by state regulations.

    The updated rules will be the first major changes to state overtime rules since the 1970s and will also include changes to the job duties tests used to determine if an employee can be classified as “exempt” or “non-exempt,” bringing Washington State more in line with federal standards.

    Options for Washington Employers

    There are multiple options available to employers in determining the best course of action for their business.

    1. Employers may opt to convert salaried “exempt” employees to salaried “non-exempt” or hourly “non-exempt” and pay any overtime or limit hours to 40 per week.
    2. Employers may also decide to continue keeping their employees salaried “exempt”, ensuring that they meet the duties test requirements, as well as updated salary requirements.

    For further information on the rule updates, and to stay informed, please visit the resources listed below.

    Changes to Overtime Rules - Department of Labor & Industries Website

    Department of Labor & Industries News Release

    Overtime Rules Factsheet

    Read the Official Rule Language in Chapter 296-128 of the Washington Administrative Code

    Executive, Administrative, & Profession Exemption eLearning Module

    For additional information, or any other questions related to L & I or City of Seattle Labor Laws, please contact Levi Coffin at levic@thegsba.org Business Training Specialist & Grant Manager at GSBA.
  • Statement on Hateful Speech at Protests

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
    | Aug 02, 2020
     
    To our members and community:

    During this time of great racial unrest, emotions are high, anger is rightfully at the surface and understandably spilling out.  Given the urgency of the times, it feels like there is no time for politeness, not when people’s lives and their humanity are at stake. Yet, knowing all of this, it is still wrong to either accept or make racist, misogynist and homophobic slurs, like those being hurled by demonstrators going to the homes of our elected officials. GSBA strongly condemns any racist, misogynistic, and homophobic slurs that have been repeatedly leveled at our Mayor and our City Councilmembers. This includes homophobic comments against Mayor Durkan, and the frequent misogynistic and racist comments directed especially at Seattle's councilwomen.
     
    What is most unfortunate is that these tactics are being increasingly common, even at City Council hearings. We have small business owners and community leaders who will no longer testify at City Hall, since they are then subjected to brutal attacks on social media and at their place of business.
     
    I have no doubt, the extremism in actions and speech is fed by the toxic behavior and encouragement of the bullying tactics of our current administration.  But, if we are to make meaningful and lasting changes to our institutions, we will need to find a way to come together to work on solutions. Anger is understandable and activism is essential, but hateful rhetoric, speech that uses racist, homophobic, or misogynistic taunts are bullying tactics that will not undo systemic racism but could very well result in deeper divisions and backlash. It’s not a time to ask for calm when rage is appropriate, but it is always the right time to refrain from hateful speech. Let’s not engage in it or tolerate it in others.
     
    Respectfully,
     
    Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO



  • Meet Chivon Ou, Nursing Student & First-Year GSBA Scholar

    by GSBA Staff
    | Jul 27, 2020
    Meet First-year GSBA Scholar (and awardee of the Wozumi Family Scholarship) and nursing student, Chivon Ou.

    Chivon OuChivon was raised in Hillsboro, OR and now lives in Vancouver, WA as a student attending the University of Portland. He is a first-generation, Khmer-American student pursuing an undergraduate degree in Nursing with a Neuroscience Minor. Inspired by the stories of his parents’ survival as refugees of the Khmer Rouge regime, Chivon aspires to become a nurse researcher to serve communities that are disproportionately affected by trauma. One of Chivon’s long-term goals is to invalidate the practice of conversion therapy with research. He also has an interest in pursuing research related to HIV using his experience as a biomedical intern. Chivon hopes that along his journey he will inspire LGBTQ youth to confidently pursue their ambitions.

    Chivon, what has it been like to be a student on the frontlines of COVID-19?


    To be a student nurse in the middle of such an unprecedented pandemic is truly an exciting yet concerning experience. As we learn more about COVID-19, communities on the ground serve as testament to the fact that healthcare and politics are intertwined. In my nursing classes, we discussed case studies about how the pandemic is disproportionately affecting minority communities, especially the LGBTQ and communities of color.

    What are some of those challenges?

    I have learned that stress as a result of forms of discrimination has been proven to increase the risk for hypertension and generalized anxiety disorder as a result of the body's overstimulated cortisol stress response. I think that this is an especially important health concern with regards to the Asian-American and immigrant communities as we have unfortunately seen a rise in xenophobia, which I can testify to as a member in Portland’s APANO. It doesn’t help that at the national level, there currently is an anti-China/immigrant/LGBTQ narrative which inevitably has been used by some to justify the scapegoating of our nation’s Asian-American, immigrant, and/or LGBTQ communities.

    How do you plan to use your experiences and voice to make a difference?

    I hope as a first-generation Asian-American nursing student myself, I will achieve my goal in helping to push back on this narrative by giving back to my community as a nurse. As a gay nursing student, I hope to also push back on the idea that my sexuality somehow compromises me as a nurse employee as this unfortunately happens to be a belief held by some employers. If anything, I believe that my experiences coming out as gay and studying how discrimination affects the health of minority populations will help me to become a more adept healthcare provider for the disenfranchised communities of our nation.
  • Statement on Federal Interventions & Protests

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
    | Jul 24, 2020
     
    Capitol Hill has always been a place for Seattle's protests. Protesting is part of the fabric of our neighborhood, and it is part of the reason many of us love it here. Our whole region comes here to be with one another, whether it's to celebrate marriage equality, commemorate Pride, stand up for trans lives, or to protest police brutality and institutional racism.  

    Capitol Hill is a vibrant community, home to a large number of small businesses, arts organizations and schools, and it is also the historic and cultural center of the LGBTQ community. Our businesses, nonprofits, and community leaders overwhelmingly support the Black Lives Matter movement and are committed to working to end systemic racism. We support those demonstrating, including many within our organization, and stand with those who are speaking out against racial injustice and police brutality.

    These are hard times for everyone, and for our small business owners who were closed for months because of COVID-19, forced to close again because of the police response to the protests, and then lost access to their businesses during the occupation. Just as our small businesses are starting to open, our customers returning and our local residents are feeling comfortable to go out again, they are again faced with trying to save their small businesses from being permanently closed because of groups coming up to the Hill to smash windows, loot storefronts, and even set fires. It is frightening for all who work or live on Capitol Hill.

    When your local neighborhood businesses close, you lose your gathering spot, your places to shop, eat, and socialize, and the local culture that makes a neighborhood. As word spreads that this is not a safe neighborhood, a small business owner loses their customers, and those who live here fear walking in their own neighborhood. Protesting injustice is important and must continue, but so is the safety of all who enjoy being part of the Capitol Hill culture. This is a public safety issue. 

    We expect the local police to respond when they need to intervene to prevent violent behavior. We are strongly opposed to Federal troops intervening, violating our civil rights, and escalating violent confrontations. We hope that everyone - residents, workers, and protesters alike – denounce violent destruction so that we remain focused on the important issue of coming together as a community to address and dismantle systemic racism, in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, healthcare system, housing, police departments, and the entire judicial system.

    For peace and racial justice,
    Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO
    Capitol Hill Business Alliance




     
  • Seattle Passes COVID Relief & JumpStart Spending Plans

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Jul 20, 2020

     
    Earlier this afternoon two important bills for Seattle’s small businesses passed City Council unanimously. These two bills are counterparts to the JumpStart legislation passed two weeks ago. GSBA has been involved with the authors of both these bills for the last several months and worked hard to ensure that efforts to provide relief to small businesses and nonprofits actually provide significant amounts of the relief that small businesses themselves say they need. 

    While we are disappointed that funding to small businesses and nonprofits was not always kept at levels we urged, the efforts funded in both these bills will provide real, concrete help as we work through this unprecedented economic crisis. The needs in our city are immediate and significant, and these efforts will help make a difference. In a survey of our Seattle members, 60% supported the City raising new revenue to deal with the COVID-19 crisis and housing crisis. A plurality supported the JumpStart plans specifically.

    We want to thank the many hours of work that went into the crafting of these spending plans. In particular, we are deeply appreciative of Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda and her office for the months of outreach and partnership that went into these efforts. Additionally, we thank Councilmember Dan Strauss for his work around the Small Business Stabilization Fund and ensuring that it is available to the businesses who are in the greatest need.

    Council Bill 119812
    This ordinance is the COVID-19 economic relief plan for the remainder of 2020 and 2021, with money from Seattle’s rainy day fund. $86 million will be appropriated to provide support for small businesses, low-income and low-wage individuals and families, immigrants, and refugees. 

    This bill adds $14.1 million to the Small Business Stabilization Fund, which will mean $10,000 grants to an additional 1,300 small businesses and nonprofits in Seattle. A separate $3.6 million is set aside specifically to support child care providers, and $300,000 is allocated to support training and technical assistance. An amendment to the bill today changed the eligibility threshold for the Small Business Stabilization Fund, raising business size to 25 FTEs (up from 5 employees), requires an equitable distribution across Seattle neighborhoods, and states that businesses who received funds in the previous round will not be eligible for additional assistance.

    Also part of this bill, $36 million will go to immediate housing needs, $18 million to immigrant and refugee support, and $14 million to the Emergency Grocery Voucher program.

    Resolution 31957
    This resolution is the document showing the intent of how the money raised in the JumpStart Seattle payroll tax will be spent starting in 2022. The City estimates that the payroll tax will raise approximately $219 million per year, the majority of which will be dedicated to low income housing. Overall, the following funding has been allocated:

             Housing and Services - 62% (est. $135 million)
       Equitable Development Initiative - 9% (est. 20 million)
       Economic Revitalization - 15% (est. 33 million)
       Green New Deal - 9% (est. $20 million)

    GSBA appreciates the additional investment in the Equitable Development Initiative, which may be used to support community-initiated equitable development projects that advance economic mobility and opportunity, prevent residential, commercial, and cultural displacement, build on local cultural assets, promote transportation mobility and connectivity, develop healthy and safe neighborhoods, and enable equitable access to all neighborhoods.


    The economic revitalization package is the part that GSBA has been most closely paying attention to. This funding will support local businesses and tourism to spur the local economic recovery and to provide economic stability for the city’s workforce. This funding is intended to address the economic hardship small business owners and their employees, and nonprofit organizations and their employees, have experienced due to loss of business income, grant funding reductions, increased operational costs, etc., as a result of the COVID-19 emergency. The efforts will focus on marginalized populations.

    This resolution sets up a workgroup that will be convened by the Mayor and include representatives from City departments,small businesses, labor representatives, and others to elaborate on these intentions and fine-tune where the funding will be allocated. GSBA fully intends to continue our involvement and advocate for the needs of our small business and nonprofit members in this workgroup in whatever capacity we are able.

    What is next?
    We know that these bills are not the end of the discussion. The JumpStart working group still needs to be convened to finalize where the economic revitalization money will be allocated. Washington State Representative Nicole Macri appears to be planning a statewide payroll tax that could supercede this Seattle effort (at all stages Seattle City Council has indicated that they would also prefer a statewide solution and the JumpStart bill includes a drawdown clause if the state implements a similar payroll tax). GSBA remains committed to representing the voice and needs of our membership at whatever level of government this discussion is taking place. 



  • Capitol Hill Small Business Survey Results

    by Christina Arrington, Business Development Manager
    | Jul 17, 2020
     
    The Capitol Hill Business Alliance (CHBA) conducted an independent survey of small businesses in the neighborhood from June 16th to June 26th, 2020. 

    Questions covered basic demographic information, the ongoing pandemic, protests against police brutality, CHOP, and damages suffered by neighborhood businesses. 78 businesses responded to the survey. The survey was conducted while CHOP was still ongoing, though its physical presence has since wound down.

    The information provided in this survey will be shared with policymakers at all levels to ensure that Capitol Hill small businesses are provided the assistance that they need.
     
    CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE SURVEY RESULTS
     
     
  • Seattle payroll tax moves forward

    by GSBA Staff
    | Jul 13, 2020
     

    Since 2018, GSBA has given the Seattle City Council and the Mayor feedback on the impact that a head tax or payroll tax would have on small business. Our position has always been that any tax leveraged against business would be most effective at the state or regional level, should provide support for small business, and should be tiered. Whether or not this is a wise time for a new tax, GSBA also recognizes the large budget shortfall our city is facing and the need for revenue to fill in that shortfall, help in the recovery and address our long term housing and homelessness crisis. 

    After Councilmember Mosqueda introduced the JumpStart payroll tax, GSBA expressed concern of how a tax levied in a time of economic crisis could negatively impact Seattle by resulting in businesses either leaving the City or not bringing back all employees. After lengthy discussions with our Public Policy Council and Board and doing a membership survey, GSBA worked closely with Councilmember Mosqueda to try and minimize the impact that this bill would have on mid-sized businesses as well any negative trickle down it could have on small businesses. Although GSBA still believes a regional tax would be best, our membership did express support for new revenue; although it was split on whether or not the JumpStart bill was the best way to bring in new revenue. There were some aspect of the final version of tax mechanism that passed that we were not pleased with, including a lengthier sunset provision than originally proposed. 

    We will continue to work with the City Council on how funds raised will be invested back in the community, most especially to support the recovery of small business.

    Below are the details of the bill that was passed with a 7-2 vote.

    The City will start assessing this tax in 2021 and will start collecting it in 2022. A quick reminder of which businesses with employees in Seattle qualify for this tax, and the rates they will pay:

    For businesses with Seattle payrolls of $7M to $99.9M:
    - No tax on salaries under $150,000
    - 0.7% tax on salaries of $150,000-$399,999
    - 1.7% on salaries over $400,000

    For businesses with Seattle payroll between $100M and $999.9M:
    - No tax on salaries under $150,000
    - 0.7% tax on salaries of $150,000-$399,999
    - 1.9% tax on salaries over $400,000

    For businesses with Seattle payrolls of $1B or more:
    - No tax on salaries under $150,000
    - 1.4% tax on salaries between $150,000 to $399,999
    - 2.4% tax on salaries over $400,000

    City Council is introducing the separate ordinance to cover the spending package on Monday, July 13, which will be voted in committee on Wednesday, July 15, and presumably face a final vote in full Council chambers on Monday, July 20. Our priorities remain ensuring that funding intended to support the economic resiliency of small businesses in their recovery from the pandemic is actually used to support those small businesses.

  • GSBA Members Get Creative to Amplify GSBA Scholarship Fund

    by GSBA Staff
    | Jun 26, 2020

    This year, we've been amazed to see all of the creative ways GSBA Members have used their talents to amplify and give back the GSBA Scholarship Fund throughout Pride month, and sometimes year-round. Take a look at a few of these wonderful products and where you can purchase them to support LGBTQ students:

    Goose Ridge Winery: Cascadian Rainbow Rosé103130509_10158045846423500_1729328958899894861_o
    Your porch-side downtime in the sun definitely could use a few of these cans of sparkling rosé. A portion of the sales of this refreshing, Washington-made wine benefits the Scholarship Fund.

    Aluel Cellars: The Scholar Wine
    You can pick up a bottle of this Bordeaux-style red blend at Aluel's tasting room on Harvard & Thomas in Capitol Hill for just $19.90 - a price honoring the Fund's founding year of 1990.

    Intentionalist: Spend Like it Matters T-Shirts 
    Wear your Pride, showing your support for small businesses and the communities who build them. For every shirt sold, 15% of the proceeds will go to the GSBA Scholarship Fund and Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County.

    Pride truffleSeattle Chocolates: Pride Truffle Bag
    Celebrate Pride with this party-sized bag of colorful rainbow truffles loaded with delectable flavors like champagne, blackberry creme, and hiker's trail mix. A percentage of sales from each Pride Truffle Bag benefit GSBA Scholars year-round, not just during Pride month.

    Seattle Cider: Sparkling Papaya
    Celebrate Pride with Seattle Cider Co. and their BRAND NEW sparkling flavor - papaya! For every Papaya Pride can sold, a portion is invested in GSBA Scholars.

    Elsom Cellars: Adventure Uncorked
    Now through the end of July, Elsom Cellars will be donating $2 for every bottle of #adventureuncorked to the GSBA Scholarship Fund. You can order online or pick up a bottle next time you go down for a tasting at the cellars' SoDo tasting room.

    GSBA Scholars need your support.

    Due to the pandemic, many of our scholars are facing unemployment and increasing financial stress - on top of remote learning. Your support now helps support our scholars stay enrolled, on the path towards graduation, and helps set them up for success as LGBTQ leaders in the workplace. Here are some ways you can help:

    1) Send us your message of support and we will share these with our scholars. When a student knows that there is a community of adults who believes in them, it can have a huge impact on their emotional, social, and academic well-being.

    2) Make a donation to the Scholarship Fund. If you have any capacity at this time, your support of our scholars is a great way to honor Pride month and invest in the LGBTQ community.

    3) Consider an additional donation to bolster the GSBA Beeks Family Open Arms Fund that provides emergency funding for health, housing and food needs for our scholars in this stressful time. Leave a note in the comments to designate your gift.

  • Larry Kramer: An Appreciation

    by Phil Bereano, The AMP: AIDS Memorial Pathway
    | Jun 25, 2020

     
    Larry Kramer is dead. The news came not unexpectedly, given his ill-health, but still with shocking force. Who will hound the Establishment now when the need is again great? Who will rally the people, even if he (or she) is so extreme that allies are alienated almost as frequently as enemies? Do we appreciate what Kramer was able to do and what his legacy to us actually is?

    AIDS was a terrifying epidemic, especially among gay men. In the early days when little was known about it, we were told that sexual activity spread the virus. If you wanted to be safe, you would have to alter or forego expressing your sexuality. Kramer’s position was that gay men should stop having sex. Period. For a group that was defined by having sex, its own special sex, that was not a popular point of view.

    Kramer seemed willing, though, to operate on a two-track philosophy, because in 1982 he also organized a meeting that led to the formation of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. The outcasts would force their way into the public dialogue, take the lead in policy proposals, and even get knowledgeable about viral biology. Other cities organized similar advocacy groups as well, some with highly technical medical newsletters. Although Kramer would be annoyed that some of these organizations were not more than hopeful pickup spots. The origination of these groups was something novel though—based on elements from the emerging calls for patients’ rights and the growing women’s healthcare movement (“Our Bodies, Ourselves,” gentlemen). The notions of “safe sex” evolved incorporating both Kramer’s reticence and the power of gay sexual liberation. Eventually, for most gay men, condoms just became part of the action.

    In the meantime, growing impatient with GMHC’s emphasis on providing social services and cozying up to politicians and drug company officials, Kramer wrote a widely read article “ 1,112 and Counting” where he railed against the willful ignorance of the immense toll the AIDS epidemic was taking. (Strangely similar to current calls for increased action as we mark 100,000 dead of COVID-19).

    His most significant writing about AIDS is surely the drama “The Normal Heart.” Somewhat autobiographical, definitely shaped by politics around the disease, this play’s emotional impact clearly enlisted many allies and raised the level of the struggle against the governmental and pharmaceutical bureaucracies.

    Larry Kramer kept being his ornery self. Eventually GMHC maneuvered him out of power within the organization and finally out of the group all together. In 1987 he founded a new organization that would channel the rowdiness he and others were feeling—ACT/UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. Polite political discourse was abandoned in favor of mass direct action—whether bodies in street “die-ins,” art wheatpasted on walls or worn on t-shirts, and disruption of the norms officials expected at meetings.

    Before Dr. Anthony Fauci was the current savvy voice of scientific reason in the government, he was a mere bureaucrat, dragging his heels. Among other actions designed to get him to treat the epidemic with more urgency, I organized an ACT/UP protest in San Francisco at a professional meeting I was attending where he was receiving a prestigious award; screaming “your red tape is killing us,” 4 or 5 guys wrapped the room and the participants in red ribbons. Chutzpah was the new normal and Fauci has often acknowledged his own evolution in this regard. Important changes occurred, as a result, also at the Food and Drug Administration where drugs were sometimes distributed before testing was completed under a concept of “compassionate release”. Kramer’s was one of the loudest voices calling for such reforms. (And they still exist, to the benefit of many people suffering from other diseases.)

    Kramer’s ideas for ACT/UP formed a template which has influenced the tactics of many subsequent movements—of Occupy activists, of the struggle for social recognition of the high incidence of breast cancer, of #BlackLivesMatter, and of #MeToo, for example. AIDS Groups modeled on Kramer’s initiative were started around the world. ACT/UP Paris began in the summer of 1989 by some guys who had been to New York City. During a sabbatical in Paris that Fall, grieving from the death of my lover, I went to their weekly meetings. In fact, action with the group led to my spending my only night ever in jail—for stenciling political slogans on the sidewalks of the Marais. On December 1st, World AIDS Day, we hung a giant banner between the two towers of Notre-Dame Cathedral: “Oui Aux Capotes,” “Yes to Condoms.” French TV loved it!

    Larry Kramer ignited the indignation of thousands of People With AIDS and their lovers, friends, and relatives. Although Kramer was not religious, my thoughts go back to the passage in the Talmud that says “if you save a single life, it is as if you saved the universe entire.” It is not far-fetched to say that Kramer’s irascibility and activism has played a role in saving the lives of everyone today who lives with HIV. What a legacy!

     

    Phil Bereano is a member of the Community Action Group of The AMP: AIDS Memorial Pathway being constructed in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, and was one of the co-founders of ACT/UP Seattle.



  • GSBA Celebrates US Supreme Court Decision to Continue DACA

    by GSBA Staff
    | Jun 18, 2020

    It has been a week of frankly unexpected good news from the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition to Monday's decision on workplace protections for LGBTQ people, this morning we woke up to the news that the Trump administration's attempts to end the DACA program were rejected. This means that the program can continue for now, and that thousands of immigrant youth will remain protected from deportation.

    dacaThe Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - DACA - program was enacted by an executive order by President Obama in 2012. It allows some immigrants who arrived in the country as children to receive a renewable deferral of deportation and become eligible for work permits. Around 700,000 people are currently part of the DACA program.

    GSBA has consistently supported the cause of DACA recipients. We know that many GSBA Scholars and GSBA members benefit from the DACA program. Their contributions to our society and to our organization are tremendous. We know that there are also many immigrants who are ineligible for DACA protections, but who are likewise important contributors and participants to our society. This decision found that the Trump administration did not follow proper legal procedures, but it does not say that ending the program later is beyond its authority.

    We celebrate another important victory today, and look forward to the day when a pathway to citizenship is provided for all immigrants to the United States.

    For more information about this decision and the community who has worked so hard to defend the rights of immigrants, please check out organizations such as Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, OneAmerica, and the WA Immigrant Solidarity Network.

    (Photo courtesy Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
  • U.S. Supreme Court Rules Civil Rights Law Protects LGBTQ Workers

    by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
    | Jun 15, 2020

      
    This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of protecting LGBTQ workers under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

    Join a nationwide community rally at 4pm Pacific tonight (Monday, June 15)

    The National Center for Transgender Equality describes the cases as:

    All three cases decided today by the highest court in the land address discrimination in the workplace. In Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman, was fired when she transitioned on the job. The Court has declared, once and for all, that discrimination against transgender people is unlawful, and that their decision applies across the country. This ruling is truly historic.

    Altitude Express v. Zarda and Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia are both cases where gay employees were fired simply because of their sexual orientation. Today’s decision, in which Justice Gorsuch wrote for the Court that “In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”


    This ruling should also provide clear guidance to overrule the Trump administration’s rollback of trans healthcare protections from last week, although further legal challenges will be necessary to end the administration's actions.

    We are thankful that Washington State has had strong anti-discrimination protections since 2006, and we are proud that the rest of the country is making progress on catching up. We still need Congress to catch up with the Supreme Court and the overwhelming majority of Americans and pass full federal non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in other areas like housing, education, credit, jury service, and public spaces. We have more work to do to cement these gains, and to make sure that these protections make a difference in the lives of all Americans, but it also feels good to celebrate progress in this moment.

    While celebrating this decision, it is almost important to recognize that the Civil Rights Act itself has clearly not ended discrimination towards any group, especially black people. Recognition in the law alone is not enough to safeguard many in our community. The legal rights of all LGBTQ people won’t be secure until we end the systemic ways that racism not only oppresses black people and other people of color—economically, socially, and in the voting booth. We must help people, including within our own community, understand that ending systemic racism is about dismantling systems that also harm all LGBTQ+ people.


    You can read the full decision here.


  • Remembering George Bakan, Seattle Gay News Publisher & LGBTQ Rights Pioneer

    by GSBA Staff
    | Jun 15, 2020
    Losing George Bakan leaves a huge hole in our LGBTQ community. George, Publisher of the Seattle Gay News, was a friend, GSBA Member, and fierce longtime LGBTQ activist.

    20171213-IMG_0070George began his career with SGN in the early 1980’s, when LGBTQ Seattleites depended on each week’s edition of the Seattle Gay News to not only tie them to their community, but to stay informed about the HIV/AIDS epidemic. George printed every scrap of news on research, prevention, and resources to help fight the disease. As the death toll mounted, George filled the pages with the names of our community members who were lost, and published obituaries for free.

    He helped see our community through some of its darkest days, and continued to fight for LGBTQ equality for decades, also leaving his mark on the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and marriage equality movements.

    George was a powerhouse. He was never afraid to speak truth to power. He was blunt, and told you how it was - whether you wanted to hear it or not. He was known for his ongoing calls to every LGBTQ nonprofit, and GSBA was right up there receiving our daily one or more George Bakan calls, to hold us accountable, go on about community news, challenge us on what we didn’t do or should do, and other times - just for conversation.

    As we approach our 40th anniversary next year, we find it amazing that we can look back on every year throughout our history as an organization - and George was there. He never missed an event. He loved the GSBA Public Policy Task Force, was proud of our community having an LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, and cared deeply about the GSBA Scholarship & Education Fund. 

    After the last EQUALUX - TASTE of GSBA in November, we picked up the phone to hear George say it was “one of the most powerful events” he’d ever attended, and he went as far as to contact the Mayor’s Office and have the day declared as “EQUALUX Day in Seattle.” Of course, the Mayor’s Office was also familiar with George’s calls and understood that life would be easier if they did what he asked.

    That was George, opinionated, irreverent, knowledgeable, incorrigible, and loved. His activist mold was one of a kind and his legacy within Seattle’s LGBTQ history is indelible. We were so lucky to call him a member and friend.
  • GSBA & CHBA Respond to Police Violence

    by Louise Chernin, President & CEO
    | Jun 08, 2020
     

    This letter was sent to Mayor Durkan, members of the Seattle City Council, City Attorney Holmes, and Chief Best on June 8, 2020.


    As the small business voice of Capitol Hill and the LGBTQ community, we write in solidarity with other community voices to express our deep concern that the events of the last weeks have put at risk the health and safety of the community.

    The murder of countless black and brown people at the hands of the police must stop. We stand with the Black Lives Matter movement and other community voices here in Seattle on the need to address racism in all its forms.

    As the small business voice of Capitol Hill and the LGBTQ community, we believe Capitol Hill should be a safe place for residents, small business owners, and for individuals to peacefully protest. The management by City Hall and the actions we have observed by the Seattle Police Department have created an environment that is hostile to free speech and the rights of the public to express themselves through peaceful protest.  

    GSBA is Washington's LGBTQ and allied chamber of commerce, founded on Capitol Hill in 1981 and representing 1,400 small businesses in Washington, including hundreds in Seattle. GSBA has a long history of fighting for economic empowerment and social justice. The Capitol Hill Business Alliance is a program of GSBA and is the business voice for the neighborhood. Many of our members have been risking their health and safety to support the protests against police violence because standing with their communities is what they do. In the middle of a pandemic and unprecedented economic crisis, they have seen it as their duty to open their doors and provide food, water, medical supplies, restrooms, and other needed amenities. And in return, many in the community feel betrayed and unsafe due to the reaction by the Seattle Police Department. 

    Watching the epicenter of the confrontation between protesters and police this weekend take place on the rainbow crosswalks in the center of our LGBTQ community's historic neighborhood on the start of Pride was particularly painful. The origins of Pride for the LGBTQ community are rooted in protests against police brutality, whether at the Stonewall Inn, Compton's Cafeteria, or the extortion and harassment of early LGBTQ spaces in Pioneer Square for most of the twentieth century. LGBTQ people of color have been at the center of these movements from the beginning. From our perspective, there is no way to separate the fight for LGBTQ rights from the fights for the rights of black, brown, and indigenous people.

    GSBA has long supported community-based efforts to reform the Seattle Police Department. What the events of the last week have made clear is that the institution needs deep and meaningful changes to its systems, policies, and culture. We ask that you act quickly and decisively to deescalate the tensions on Capitol Hill and across Seattle so that we can again feel safe on Capitol Hill and protesters can exercise their first amendment rights. The City must make every effort necessary to reach consensus with the community to eliminate biased policing, and we ask that you listen closely to the voices of our communities.

    We join with many others who have come before us advocating the following actions as a start to remedy these harms and the significant loss of goodwill and trust between the community, its local leaders, and its police department:

    • Cease all actions against peaceful protesters, including physical attacks, arrests, prosecution, and incarceration.

    • Prohibit the use of any gas, flash-bang grenades, rubber bullets, and other violent methods against protesters.

    • End forcing downtown protests up into Capitol Hill, allow protesters to peaceably walk and gather on streets and sidewalks as they choose, especially during these times when there is minimal obstruction of traffic or other activities.

    • Prohibit any obstruction of badge numbers by officers, for any reason.

    • Have an experienced incident commander who is visible throughout the demonstrations, speaking with and regularly updating community, businesses, the media, and all those watching who are trying to get accurate, timely, and consistent information.

    • Ensure that SPOG and SPMA contracts live up to the promises made to the community that reforms recommended by the Community Police Commission in 2014 and in the 2017 accountability reform law will be fully enacted. 

    • Follow through on all other requirements from the 2017 law that did not need to await contractual changes and on any other recommendations for reform from years of civilian oversight working in collaboration with community that are still not implemented.

    • Begin serious efforts to de-militarize SPD (equipment, training, and behavior) and redirect SPD funding where a law enforcement approach is not serving our communities, reinvesting in other approaches, and in addressing other long-standing disparities in services.

    The damage done to Capitol Hill, its residents, and its small businesses – as well as the loss of trust and mutual respect between police and the communities they serve – will take a lot of work to restore. We are outraged, frustrated, and disappointed, and we need you to hear our voice and those of the protesters. While our expectations are high, we will help hold City Hall and the Seattle Police Department accountable. GSBA will continue to work for equality and the dismantling of structural racism working with community partners to make our City safe and allow our communities to thrive.

    Sincerely,

    Louise Chernin, President & CEO