Money Talks

Money Talk (1)By Suzanne Deakins, PQ Monthly

Money talks is a very old saying that applies to our community. In 2007 the national business organization for GLBTQ business told us, as a group, we were in the top 30% earners in the USA.

Entrepreneurs make up a good bit of Oregon’s tax base. Small businesses have always been the basis for a healthy economy and capital growth. More than 1 million jobs were created by GLBTQ businesses between 2005-2014. Five percent of the businesses owned by GLBTQ people have net-worth of over 5 million USD. Lesbian owned business fair a bit lower than our Gay brothers. (No figures on Transgender, Bi-sexual, and Queer business were available).

Along this same line, 75% of businesses in Oregon have 9 or fewer employees. Oregon has long been a small business state. Buying power of LGBT population was 830 million in 2013 and continues to grow according to an analysis by Witeck Communications.

NGLCC says that “LGBT buying power is diverse in ethnicity and socioeconomic status, and we are an incredibly loyal constituency.”

I could not find the statistic on the percentage of our community who are entrepreneurs, but my guess is that 70% of us work for ourselves or for someone in our community who runs their own business.

GLBTQ businesses created billions of dollars in revenue last year. This is a power that cannot be overlooked.

This is where PABA (Portland Area Business Association) becomes essential to our community. Among many of its goals is to help GLBT nascent entrepreneurs build their businesses, establish an atmosphere where they can network with others including our straight allies. PABA’s goal is to encourage business development through building community and inclusion.

The importance of entrepreneurs in our community cannot be understated. The more our community has earning power that talks, the easier it will be to gain equal rights on all fronts. Economic equality is a critical step along the continuum of progress for our GLBTQ community. PABA plays an important part of this process.

PABA offers help to the businessperson through mentorship, coaching, and hands-on learning that helps the start-ups. Insights and education into business development and professional advancement are offered in monthly luncheon meetings and after-hours gatherings. These meetings and gatherings also help PABA members become grounded and viable through networking with others in the GLBTQ communities and our supportive allies. Seminars that focus on everything from bookkeeping to marketing help businesses in building lasting foundations.

PABA leadership actively seek connections with other business associations and minority chambers. In PABA’s process of facilitating the success of its member businesses, PABA members help create more jobs for Portlanders of all identities and contributes considerably to Portland metro’s economic vitality.

This has contributed to Portland being ranked #1 in 2015 as the place to live for the GLBTQ community.

PABA’s membership is filled with 200 active members. Approximately 80 percent own their own business. The membership is a combination of GLBTQ owners and our straight allies. PABA promotes inclusiveness in the membership and good hiring practices for our community.

Founded in 1992, PABA was the recipient of the 2015 Spirit of Portland Award in the category of Business Association of the Year.

On a personal note. I have been in my own business since 1979. Living in NYC I often felt adrift. There was no business organization where I could speak freely or locate other GLBTQ business people. When I came to Portland it was like a breath of fresh air to find PABA. Being able to vocalize concerns and make connections in our community was in many ways a lifesaver. I made many friends from our community.

I look with pride to such entrepreneurs as Jackie Wheatley and her Rainbow Accounting, Michael Long and his law practice, Donald Falk, Celia Lyons, Melanie Davis, and so many more I cannot begin to name them all. I watched Cory Kaster graduate from College and start his own successful business. And watched so many more young people who chose to become entrepreneurs and used PABA as a foundation for their start-up. I proudly served as Secretary of PABA along with Larry Foltz who was President. A large shout out to Paul Finlay for help with some of the information for this article.

You can find meeting times and dates and more information on PABA at

Suzanne Deakins, Ph., D. is the Author of Back to The Basics Management, The Lost Craft of Leadership.
First published in 1981 this book on humanistic management practices has been printed in 8 languages including Japanese and Chinese and used at Fordham, Columbia, and many other universities in their management programs. It is available on Amazon. Ms. Deakins has taught at St John’s University in their management department, as well as PACE University, and Shundee Technical University, in Fushun, China in Guangdong province. She is currently Treasurer on the Board of GLAPN (Gay Lesbian Archives of Pacific Northwest) and a member of PQ writing staff.