Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce Membership Spotlight

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Joe Woolley executive director of Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce in front of the Tennessee State Capitol
Joe Woolley in front of the Tennessee State Capitol
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We usually use this space that Out and About so generously gives us each issue to spotlight one of our incredible members and what they are doing with their business. This month we are using it to spotlight membership in the Chamber itself and the new reality that we face with the coronavirus pandemic. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it would have been hard to talk to a member business about what they do, because everyone is uncertain about their old business model and what their new one will be, or whether they will even have a business going forward.

 

Businesses, from our corporate members down to our small businesses and gig-workers, are affected in major ways. To be sure, COVID-19 will be a factor to consider for every business, going forward. Businesses will talk about how they responded, and how it changed what they do and who they employ. We at the Chamber are no different: every program we have has had to adapt and deal with a COVID-19 world.

When the outbreak started and the city went into quarantine, we went back to our core principles of advocacy, education, and connection. We had just done this with reference to the tornado response and recovery but even that refocus was nothing compared with the challenges we would face with COVID-19 and continuing forward.

We needed to take care of our members before anything else. A Chamber is nothing without the members it represents, so we set forth to work for them in any way that we could. The Chamber has adapted to make sure we are serving our members and the community and will continue to do so when we get through this (and we will get through this).

The Chamber created a COVID-19 resources page where we shared all the news and information we felt our members need to know about. We put all that information on our social media as well. A webinar section was created to connect our members to the countless webinars our community partners were putting out. We reached out to all our members and asked them if to share their information with us to help specifically reach the LGBT population, and our news section quickly filled up with important information.

Directories were created that highlighted members that were offering takeout, or members that had changed their business to sell their product in a new way. Our Hot Deals section was promoted and soon filled up with specials to other members and the community, on a number of items.

We know these are tough times for everyone, with the financial impact of the tornado, followed by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses and people across Nashville are looking for ways to lower expenses. We want to do our part to help.

The Nashville LGBT Chamber decided to suspend all membership billing until this crisis is over.   No member will need to pay any dues or fees. We will also be extending all memberships for our networking members, adding additional time to their membership for all months that we have had to cancel our networking events.

After the announcement of the pause in membership, we heard the thanks from members that really appreciated it, but we also saw continued and increased support from other members that could continue to give.

The Nashville LGBT Chamber was pleased to announce that Rod Bragg Music City PrEP Clinic bolstered its investment in the Nashville LGBT Chamber, becoming the first-ever Titanium-level member. Previously a Gold member, Music City PrEP’s Titanium Membership highlights the tremendous growth of the Nashville LGBT Chamber, which currently represents over 500 Nashville area small businesses, corporations, nonprofits and entrepreneurs committed to promoting equity and diversity in business and society.

With the tremendous feedback from members after our first virtual event, we are excited to announce our expanded Connection Programming, a series which includes webinars, networking events, and other educational meetings to help our members and community stay connected and informed while we navigate the “new normal”.

Virtual connection is what we have at the moment, and we will continue it even after we are able to meet in-person again. We will meet in-person again, but we expect it to look different than what we used to do and the virtual connection will go hand in hand with the in-person.

To complement our traditional Brewing Up Business, which is held on the third Thursday of every month from 5:30 – 6:30 pm, we will now offer additional morning networking opportunities, AM Brewing Up Business. These events will include a short program of announcements from our Chamber’s staff and then small group networking. We will break the larger group into small rooms to exchange information and let peers know you are doing at this time.

We are proud to kick-off our new program, Member Connections. This event will give an in-depth highlight of one of our corporate members and one of our small business members. We will have a Q&A session and have other attendees speak to the group to check-in with other members. You will have the opportunity to talk about what you are working on, questions or issues you need help with, or anything else you want to address.

Classroom Connections is another new program designed to assist our members and community. Each session will highlight a new topic (LGBTBE certification, navigating PPP and CARES Act, Marketing, HR, etc.).

So that is what we have done and will continue to do. This is in additions to the things that will start back up when the outbreak and crisis subsides, things like advocating against discrimination at the state capitol, rainbow ribbon-cuttings, events like the Business Awards and TASTE, and spotlighting the work of our members in these pages.

We at the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce look forward to spotlighting a member very soon and talking to them about how they survived this will be a part of that highlight. If you need assistance or are interested in learning more about what we do, we would love to hear from you.

Visit our website for more details on these programs: nashvillelgbtchamber.org.