Q-and-A: Reno ready to support LGBTQ+ businesses, says GLCCNV president
RENO, Nev. — A little more than a year ago, the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce of Nevada was struggling to gain traction.
Though the GLCCNV launched in Las Vegas in 2014 with the intention of serving the entire state, five years later the organization still only had a presence in Southern Nevada — and, just seven members.
Tim Haughinberry, a Vegas business owner who took over as the GLCCNV president in mid-2019, wanted to change that.
One year later, with Haughinberry at the helm, the organization’s membership has soared from seven to 70 LGBTQ+ and allied business professionals who enjoy various business development opportunities, financial access, educational resources, supplier diversity and procurement opportunities.
GLCCNV’s massive member growth propelled the organization to become a statewide chamber in earnest — in August, it expanded to the Northern Nevada LGBTQ+ business community.
With that mind, the NNBW recently talked with Haughinberry about the expansion and what the chamber hopes to accomplish going forward.
Q: What led to GLCCNV finally expanding to Northern Nevada?
Haughinberry: It was always part of the gameplan to come up to Reno. I wasn’t sure how fast we would grow to get to that point. But, within a year in Vegas, we surpassed 70 members. And then we said, what the heck, it’s COVID, it’s all about social media, and we did some postings. And we’ve signed up almost 10 companies from Reno-Sparks already, and it’s all through social media. So, there’s a thirst for it. Reno is hungry for some LGBTQ organizations on the professional realm. There’s obviously good businesses there. And that’s what brought us there — to serve the entire state.
Q: Why is embracing diversity within the business community so important?
Haughinberry: There’s a micro level and a macro level. If you’re a publicly owned and traded company and you want certain ratings, you would have to have a diversity platform just as much as you would need to have a green platform, like a LEED certification. And then on a local level, with this chamber, along with other diverse chambers, the goal is to just get the information and network like any other chamber. So, it’s having a voice and a place where you can get information to succeed in business.
Q: Is equality in the workplace and on company boards something the chamber focuses on?
Haughinberry: We will always share communications about equality in the workplace. If an issue comes up or one of our clients or someone in the community reaches out to us, we will definitely deal with the situation. In our beginning phase of the chapter, our goal was to grow membership and provide the tools for people to have successful businesses. We’re not involved in politics; we’re not involved in religious organizations; we’re not involved in any healthy organizations. We’re strictly a business entity. But equality and diversity is extremely important — that’s what we’re all about.
Q: Is there a specific number of members you’re hoping to gain in this region?
Haughinberry: I think if I could hit 50 members, we’d like to get a board position open. Meaning, somebody from the community would be able to be nominated onto the board and have a senior board member position. In the next couple weeks, we’re going to start bringing somebody on as a membership chairman to help us grow, meet everybody out there (in Northern Nevada), communicate, and build a network a little bit stronger until we could all start traveling.
Q: With the pandemic significantly impacting small businesses, has that increased the need for the chamber to be a voice and resource for the LGBTQ+ business community?
Haughinberry: In the beginning, I think we all didn’t know exactly what to do as small business owners. We started communicating pretty rapidly and sharing a lot of information that was coming from (the) national (Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce) that seemed to be quite useful.
We were actually able to get the Nevada state treasurer (Zach Conine) to do a conference and Q-and-A with us. And recently had the Lt. Gov. (Kate Marshall) doing a conference with us. It’s great to have the relationships with the lieutenant governor and Nevada state treasurer to deal with the issues that we’re having in Nevada.
I would say the chamber was a very useful tool (for members during the pandemic). We have a lot of our members affected that deal with The Strip and conventions and entertainment section. But, we have some other ones that are having the best (business) years of their lives, like Realtors. It’s just a strange time.
Q: What are the future goals and what is the vision for the chamber going forward?
Haughinberry: I’ve been looking at all of the things every community does in LGBTQ communities, and I don’t feel a strong entrepreneurship program in the state of Nevada. So, we think we’re going to start our first initiatives, with possibly a scholarship or a grant or set up our own training module for entrepreneurship in the state of Nevada. So that’s one of our goals.
Our second goal is to work with our corporate partners and get our first symposium going. All the corporate partners have a diversity platform. If we can get them all in one room to share those with our members, and our members can share their services with those organizations, that’s something that would be very helpful to us for our two goals.
Construction could begin next year and require about 500 to 600 workers, with a permanent workforce starting at 150 to 200 people with potential to expand.