The Pocono Chamber of Commerce is forming an LGBTQ Business Council to serve business owners and professionals in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer communities and their supporters.
Mike Moreno, a regional coordinator with the chamber, is working to form the committee and is in the process of gathering interested parties.
He said several businesses that are either LGBTQ owned or are LGBTQ allies have already joined the fledgling council, including the Rainbow Mountain Resort, Rootin’ Tootin’ Hot Dogs, Kitchen Chemistry, Pocono Soap and the Pocono Center for the Arts.
“The chamber is an advocate for all businesses and we want it to support this community and do more to make sure LGBTQ business felt just as welcome as all others,” Moreno said.
Moreno said he is modeling the council after the LGBTQ council run by the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, which he said has seen a great deal of success since it formed in 2012.
Danielle Joseph, executive vice president of diversity councils for GLVCC, said the LGBTQ council has become an essential part of the diversity councils the chambers run.
“It’s nice to be in a space where you get empowered,” Joseph said. “We are all in different areas of our personal and professional lives. It helps to be in a space where people get you.”
The GLVCC’s council hosts an annual gala, has LGBTQ-issue-related business panels and has regular mixers and fundraisers. Moreno said they hope to offer similar events in the Poconos.
Businesses and organizations that have already become involved in the Pocono council are looking forward to what develops.
“When you own your own businesses you’re alone,” said Ray “Skip” Sheetz, who is one of the founders of the Pocono Center for the Arts, one of the council’s early members. “Being a business owner is a struggle enough. It’s especially so as a minority. To know that the community supports you. I think it definitely can do some good.”
Moreno noted that any business or professional that wants to show support for the LGBTQ community are welcome to join.
In the Lehigh Valley Council, for example, there are many of the region’s larger employers including a number of banks and law firms, are involved in the council to promote diversity in their workforce.
The council held a business card exchange and mixer on Monday at the Mountain View Vineyard in Stroudsburg as one of its first big membership drives, but Moreno said he is still actively looking for members.
For more information contact Moreno at mmoreno@greaterpoconochamber.