In 2007 Hampton Roads Business OutReach (HRBOR) was founded as Virginia’s first LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Its original mission was to promote LGBT influence through business ownership, workforce equality, and active consumerism.
Since that time much has changed. LGBT equality in both the business and legislative community has made great strides. The nation, Virginia, and Hampton Roads are much more accepting and favorable for LGBT people.
As a result, our mission has changed over the years, and we are not the HRBOR of 2007. We have spent the last two years reorganizing and reimagining HRBOR’s role in the LGBT consumer and business community. Now we are running full steam ahead as a new organization focusing on four core areas for our members:
- Business training and development.
- Legislative representation and advocacy.
- Membership networking.
- Business-to-business and business-to-consumer commerce.
So why am I telling you this? When I look back at HRBOR’s history books I can’t see where we have ever embarked on a membership drive. That’s what we are doing over the next 45 days.
If you’re an existing HRBOR member, I, of course, want to see you renew. And I’d like to ask you to refer at least one other business or colleague to join before March 31.
If you’re not a HRBOR member, I encourage you to join us. We have multiple membership categories at $150 – $500 per year including individual, non-profit, small business, and corporate.
We also provide opportunities for businesses to become HRBOR Partners starting at just $1,000 and up.
And if you are a former member, take a look at where HRBOR is going as we move into the coming years. I’m sure you’ll find value there.
Speaking of value, what’s in it for you?
First (and this is important), you are voicing your support Virginia’s first LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Yes, we were the first whose primary focus has always been to promote LGBT owned businesses, support LGBT professionals, and work to create an equal and equitable marketplace for businesses and employees.
Second, you have access to our impressive roster of programming.
- Diversify your workforce at our OutWork 757 LGBTQ Career Expo (March 2020).
- Meet and mingle with other HRBOR members at coffee and after hours events (typically monthly).
- Expand your knowledge base through practical business training and development programs such as our Diversity & Inclusion Seminars.
- Extend your marketing dollar through our printed member guide and new web site.
- Meet other LGBT professionals from around the country at NGLCC events such as the national conference in July 2020.
- Promote your business to LGBT consumers through our Safe Commerce program, which provides you with visible signage at your place of business.
Third, connect with corporations looking to do business with LGBT-owned businesses by becoming an LGBTE Certified Business. This National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce certification is typically a $500 investment. However, HRBOR pays for our members to apply and reap the benefits of connecting with NGCLCC’s international network of other certified businesses
Finally, you have the power and voice of HRBOR’s advocacy with the 17 local municipalities in Hampton Roads and in Richmond. We are engaging in an aggressive legislative agenda in 2020 that not only supports the work already done by the Virginia General Assembly, but advocates for our members to have equitable access to municipal contract work in Hampton Roads.
Whether you are an LGBT business owner, an LGBT professional, or an ally we invite you to become a member today.
We’re so happy to have you with HRBOR.
Christian Strange, President