The Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MDGLCC) is the largest not-for-profit corporation in the county for gay and lesbian businesses. The chamber has a membership comprised of close to 600 companies / businesses and represents more than 1,200 members. It was a pleasure to sit down with Steve Adkins who gave us insight into what the MDGLCC is all about.
How long have you been with the chamber?
I started as a board member back in 2002. In 2005, we re-organized the chamber board and, performed a top-down assessment of our membership/organization. As part of that process, I began working (unpaid/part-time) in late 2005 to implement some of the strategies we had come up with to build the Chamber and diversify our programming. I became a full-time paid employee in mid-2006.
What did you do before the chamber?
I am lucky to have had two career chapters in my life before the chamber. My grandfather was a career banker (at BofA) for over 40 years and got me a part-time job right out of high school (which I kept throughout college). Upon graduating San Diego State University, I joined Bank of America’s commercial lending program and remained in banking until 1998 (23 years). My second career began when I moved to Miami Beach in 1999 and purchased the Jefferson House B&B. I lived on property, cooked and ran the B&B until its sale in early 2005…an amazing and exhausting time in my life. I miss the guests but, not the hours.
Tell our readers about what the MDGLCC does.
The Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MDGLCC) is the largest not-for-profit corporation in the county (2nd largest LGBT Chamber in the US behind Seattle) for gay and lesbian businesses. With membership comprised of close to 600 companies / businesses representing more than 1,200 members, the Chamber’s mission is to promote a unified and thriving, gay and gay-friendly, business and professional community throughout Miami-Dade County.
Our goals are to promote networking (over 70 events each year) within the existing gay and gay-friendly business and professional community, to promote business opportunities for Chamber members, to promote Miami as a year-round, gay and gay-friendly tourist destination, to provide resources for our members, and to provide outreach from our community to other organizations.
Why does the LGBT community need an organization like the MDGLCC?
The simple answer is visibility and equality. MDGLCC operates as most Chambers around the country do…to engage as a local association to promote and protect the interests of the business community in a particular place. In our case, we promote and advocate on behalf of LGBT owned and allied supportive businesses who want to do business with the LGBT market. Without an LGBT Chamber, there is no one to define the market and create an opportunity based platform from which business is created for our members. MDGLCC works with businesses across south Florida to create open and diverse workplaces that do not discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. As a result of our work and that of our partners, the LGBT business market continues to expand as an important voice in Miami-Dade and, is held in equal consideration in most legislative decisions at the county and municipal levels.
Just this past week the chamber presented the state of the community. Can you give us a brief statement that summarizes the state of our community for our readers who didn’t have a chance to attend the event?
The impact of this annual event cannot be understated. The State of Our Community luncheon was created over six years ago to provide a dialogue of political understanding between the elected officials of our largest local municipalities and the county and, the LGBT business community. Since the election of David Richardson, our voice in Tallahassee is represented along with the platforms of our two local LGBT advocacy organizations, SAVE and Equality Florida. As the business, social and political climate changes from year to year, it is important that the LGBT community has an opportunity to communicate its desires and motivations while we give ear to what our political leaders represent what they feel are critical issues facing us in the coming year. From this communication, a LGBT Advocacy Action Plan is created outlining the goals we would like to achieve and, who we need to work with to see the change materialize.
To learn more about the MDGLCC or to join as a member, visit them at GayBizMiami.com. Their office is located in the old City Hall building at 1130 Washington Ave in Miami Beach.