The GSBA Advocates for LGBTQ+ and Small Business Community

Gabriel Neuman of GSBA, Washington's LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce, discusses the organization's advocacy for LGBTQ rights, small business support, and community-oriented public safety solutions.

The GSBA Advocates for LGBTQ+ and Small Business Community

The GSBA, Washington's LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce, is working to foster a sustainable and inclusive economic landscape for LGBTQ+ individuals and small businesses across the state. In an interview with Crystal Fincher, host of the Hacks & Wonks podcast, GSBA Policy Counsel Gabriel Neuman discussed the organization's initiatives and legislative victories.

"Last year was a fantastic year for LGBTQ rights in Washington state," Neuman said. Key bills passed included a Shield Law to protect individuals coming to Washington to receive gender affirming or reproductive care, a privacy bill to safeguard healthcare data related to gender identity and sexuality, and a law making it easier to seal name changes for transgender individuals.

On the business front, the GSBA supported legislation to facilitate employee ownership of companies. "If you're an LGBTQ business owner and you want to make sure your business stays in the hands of the employees you worked with for 20 years, or it stays in community, you have more freedom to do that now," explained Neuman.

The GSBA is now turning its attention to other issues impacting small businesses, including taxation, workforce development, and housing affordability. Neuman noted that small business owners in Seattle pay around 70% of the city's taxes through the business and occupation (B&O) tax. "Businesses pay a ton in business and occupation tax... Instead of relying on an income tax, a lot of our taxes come from B&O tax, which is directly placed on our business owners... and it's hurting folks."

To help businesses find skilled workers, the GSBA is focused on connecting individuals to training programs and ensuring industries are inclusive of LGBTQ+ employees. "We're building out [an LGBTQ inclusion] program much more and we're really proud of that," said Neuman. "We're also creating a suite of actual products that businesses can use - for example, a guide on how to deal with name changes in the workplace."

While the GSBA hasn't been very active yet on housing advocacy, Neuman sees it as a key business issue going forward. "How are you supposed to find employees? Again, harking back to that workforce development issue, how are you supposed to find folks that can afford to live near your business, or can afford to drive - transport to your business - and who have the skills to do that? Like it's just incompatible - something needs to change."

Neuman encouraged small business owners to make their voices heard by elected officials. "Please do that outreach and please let them know when they do things that you like as well, because they need that positive feedback... Utilize us as well - not just GSBA - utilize us, but utilize your business support community writ large around you to see what avenues and resources are available for you, because there are so many too that you might just not be aware of."

He also shared an uplifting message for the LGBTQ+ community: "Washington has your back. Washington has just passed this suite of transformative policy that will help to shield you if you are thinking of coming here, or if you are here thinking of and have a family that want to come spend time with you, or whatever - Washington has your back. And we are also continuing to build on that infrastructure."

For more information about the GSBA and its initiatives, visit

About the Guest

Gabriel Neuman

Gabriel Neuman (he/him) is GSBA’s Policy Counsel & Government Relations Manager. Gabriel began working as GSBA’s Office Manager in 2019, when he was attending evening classes at Seattle University School of Law. He has been thrilled to continue to serve GSBA after law school in the public policy world. Now, he collaborates with GSBA membership and local leadership to understand community needs and transforms those perspectives into advocacy. Prior to joining GSBA, Gabriel worked in the legal field and studied Political Science and Public Affairs, also at Seattle University, while collaborating with grassroots organizations on improving child welfare policy. Outside of work Gabriel enjoys crocheting, gardening, reading sci-fi, and live music.

Find more about GSBA at



GSBA and CHBA Present: District 3 Candidate Reception on Thursday, July 20, 2023, 4:30-6:30p

Podcast Transcript

[00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I'm Crystal Fincher, and I'm a political consultant and your host. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy in Washington state through the lens of those doing the work with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening, and what you can do about it. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast to get the full versions of our Friday week-in-review show and our Tuesday topical show delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, the most helpful thing you can do is leave a review wherever you listen to Hacks & Wonks. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at and in our episode notes.

I am excited about today's show and to be welcoming Gabriel Neuman, who is Policy Counsel and Government Relations Manager of GSBA. Welcome.

[00:01:02] Gabriel Neuman: Thank you - I'm excited to be here.

[00:01:04] Crystal Fincher: Thank you very much - great to be able to have this conversation with you. I think I just want to start out by helping the listeners understand - who is GSBA, what does GSBA do, and what brought you to this work?

[00:01:18] Gabriel Neuman: GSBA is Washington's LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce. We started in the '80s as a way for LGBTQ folks in Seattle to find organizations and businesses that will accept them and provide a safe space for them. And over the years, it's evolved to form this big organization we have now. We have a scholarship program, which we began in the '90s, and we provide four years of recurring funding for students that are LGBTQ+ and allied. In addition to that, our chamber focuses primarily on serving small local businesses. And so through our chamber programs, we have a ton - we have a Business Academy, which is small business support through classes, and then we have one-on-one consults - so we help you create and sustain a business through questions and support. We have our networking and business connections pieces of our chamber - we host a lot of events under that. And then we also have our advocacy wing, which really focuses on trying to create a sustainable economic landscape for LGBTQ folks in Washington. So that's kind of GSBA in a nutshell - there's a whole bunch more.

And for me personally - why I decided to join this work - I actually started to work at GSBA as office administrator, where I worked full-time while I was in Seattle University School of Law part-time during evening classes. And I came to GSBA because I really wanted to do something within my community. And I stayed because policy has always been a passion of mine and something that I wanted to do in a career. And GSBA was really supportive in providing that opportunity for me, and it just kind of ended up working out, so excited to be here.

[00:02:59] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. And so for a lot of people listening, sometimes on the news you hear a lot about the Seattle Chamber, Downtown Seattle Association. There are a number of business-oriented organizations throughout the city, county, and state - what really differentiates you and the work that you do at GSBA, and some of the results or work that you've done with members that you're particularly proud of?

[00:03:26] Gabriel Neuman: Yeah, I think there are quite a few kind of different touch points. The Seattle Chamber and DSA are fantastic organizations, and we work well with them. But I would say that GSBA is focused a little bit more on the community-building aspect. And so we understand that to foster a collaborative environment and a business community that is sustainable for everybody, that means that everybody in the community needs to come and be invited to that table. And so GSBA really focuses on centering underserved communities in our work, and in connecting folks to each other in order to build and expand in that capacity. And then in addition, I think that a lot more of our work is centered on LGBTQ, but social justice initiatives in general - so we do a lot of DEI work, we do a lot of inclusion work for LGBTQ folks. And so it's really the kind of expertise we provide in that landscape that really differentiates us from those other orgs.

[00:04:20] Crystal Fincher: In terms of policy, what have you been advocating for and have helped to pass, and what are the top things that you're working on now?

[00:04:27] Gabriel Neuman: Yeah, last year was a fantastic year for LGBTQ rights in Washington state. Unfortunately, nationwide, we did not have the same results. And so in Washington this past year, a lot of our legislation was built to support our community - both in Washington and then also to support folks who are coming from other states in which they experience discrimination - and making sure that they're safe here in Washington. So what that looks like is GSBA - so we have a Policy Council that consists of folks from our community. And if anybody is listening and might be interested in that, please let me know - it's open to the public. So we have a Policy Council that serves in an advisory capacity for us, so that we can hear from our members in our community directly. And then we prioritize based off of what we think GSBA, as both a business organization and a social justice organization, can take the lead on - which ones we can support, but make sure the leadership resides within the organizations that are better fitted for it and then which ones are more like tertiary support. So there's a ton of support for LGBTQ legislation that was taken and led by other organizations, but GSBA supported them through testimony and through connecting our members to testify.

So what those bills look like are we have a fantastic Shield Law that was just passed. And what that means is that folks from other states who are coming here to receive gender affirming care or reproductive care will not be able to be prosecuted in their state - that our Washington resources will not be used to prosecute them for receiving those services. And so that's gonna be really helpful - again, to provide that shelter and that opportunity for people coming here, but then also it protects practitioners in Washington who provide those resources from facing persecution in those other states. So that's really fantastic. Another bill that we advised on was the privacy bill - there was multiple privacy bills, but this one protects - helps to protect - healthcare data and making sure that your information about your gender identity, and your sexuality, and your reproductive history cannot be sold or used by organizations that may not want to, might not have your best interest at hand. So we are really excited about those. Some additional ones are there's a bill that made it easier for folks to seal their name changes - so if you're trans and you want to seal that name change due to fear of backlash from the public, we now have the ability to do that. And I worked on that as a community volunteer before I came into this position, and so I was really excited to see that one pass as well. So that's the LGBTQ side.

On the business side, we were really happy to support a bill that makes it - basically, it makes it easier to set up ownership sharing programs - so giving employees a stake in the company - and that has been shown to produce a much better work quality of life for employees. But it also makes it easier for - if you're an LGBTQ business owner and you want to make sure your business stays in the hands of the employees you worked with for 20 years, or it stays in community - you have more freedom to do that now. So we're really excited about that one. And then a lot of kind of trying to get an increasing in our tourism budgets and providing additional funding for things like that. So we've kind of been - had our hands in a lot of different pots here - but it's been a busy year.

[00:07:42] Crystal Fincher: And that's something that I have noticed - in really over the years - is that you do have your hands in a lot of different pots and are doing a lot of that work. And it does look different than you sometimes might expect from a purely business organization. You do a lot of the social work, more of a focus on equity, hearing from your members - seems like more comprehensively than a lot of other organizations may. I want to talk about some specific issue areas, revenue starting off - big conversation, always a conversation both locally and at the state level. One big piece of really consequential legislation was the JumpStart Tax for Seattle, which GSBA was in support of. And there have been conversations about maybe redirecting that perhaps, maybe changing what we're doing with it. What's your evaluation of the JumpStart Tax - how it has been performing, especially for small businesses, and where would you like to see that go?

[00:08:38] Gabriel Neuman: Yeah, so from my understanding, the Seattle JumpStart Tax was intended to fund public housing - or affordable housing - and reinvest in our Green New Deal, and be attributed to some specific areas that our city needs additional funding towards. But right now, our general fund in the City is at a deficit, so we need more money in our general fund. And so they've been using the JumpStart Tax funds to help rebuild that deficit in the general budget. So what that means is that instead of the JumpStart funds being used for what the voters voted on them to be used for - affordable housing, Green New Deal-type things - it's instead being used to just furnish the general budget. That needed to happen - our city programs need to be funded. But it can't happen continually. It cannot be used as a continual, as a way for our city to lean on this tax in order to fill that shortfall - because there was so much political support brought behind this, and so many different people lent their voices into creating this tax and architecting it so that it would fill this very specific void in affordable housing that we have. And when it gets passed and that funding is not being used in the way the public thought it would be used, that results in a lack of - the public loses their confidence in our officials to delegate and to be able to actually reflect on those conversations they have with their constituents. And that really creates a compounding issue of how can we make sure that - that civic engagement and trust continues to exist, because that's literally the heart of our democracy.

And so right now, I know the City has created a Revenue Stabilization task force. The goal of that is to find ways to basically fully furnish the general fund so that it does not have to pull from the JumpStart Tax. That task force - it'll be interesting to hear the results of the task force - they'll be releasing a paper to the City Council in July, outlining their plan and their suggestions. But there are some interesting conversations with participants on that task force around - the goal of the group was initially to just find ways to increase funding to the general fund. But some other folks in the group want to see if there are ways to cut current spending so that we can have a mixture of both taxes and spending cuts, so that we're not just increasing taxes on our businesses. And so there's a little bit of discussion there and I'm very curious to see how that'll play out. But -

[00:11:07] Crystal Fincher: Is GSBA in favor of cuts, along with expansions of the tax?

[00:11:13] Gabriel Neuman: Yeah, I think that we would be interested in understanding where those cuts would go and what that would look like, and see if there are avenues in which we can try to lower the amount. Because the reason that our general fund has all these additional programs that are underfunded right now is because when COVID started, we got a huge influx of federal funds and that money was used by the City to create a bunch of programming to help support and sustain our community during the pandemic. And a lot of those programs were very successful and we want to continue those programs, but we're not receiving that federal funding. And so I think that, just in the interest of having a well-rounded and well-researched perspective on where our budget is in general, we do support the idea of looking into all aspects - including spending cuts and different taxes, but - so we're interested to see what the City is gonna do.

[00:12:07] Crystal Fincher: Gotcha. One of the biggest areas of spending in the general fund is in public safety. Would that be an area that you would be looking to find some room in through cuts?

[00:12:17] Gabriel Neuman: Yeah, I think that - public safety is a major issue for our members. And what our members are wanting to see is - they're wanting to see some sort of reassurance of their safety - and that's just not happening right now. People don't, they don't feel like those bases are being covered. And GSBA - we follow evidence-based approach to our policy - and the evidence right now says that increasing public health programming, increasing behavioral support for folks that need mental health support, and increasing resources like rehabilitation services that are supportive of folks that go through them, those are the types of things that promote a safe environment. And so GSBA is in support of programs like that that don't take a punitive approach to public safety, but rather a community-oriented and person-focused approach. So if that means less budgeting allocated towards the more punitive policy approaches within Seattle, then yes, we are in support of that. Yeah.

[00:13:19] Crystal Fincher: Which is interesting 'cause it does seem like the City is increasingly moving in that direction. At the time of this recording, we have recently heard about the recent departure of Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell, perhaps about some differences in opinion on how things should proceed in this way. So are you actively advocating for more evidence-based investments and policies at this point in time?

[00:13:45] Gabriel Neuman: Yes, we are - so GSBA is - we're currently researching the different policy proposals that have been introduced and voted on and voted down by City Council. We're planning on - I'm going to be polling our members, and I'm gonna be using that poll as a way to create a letter from GSBA and from our membership to submit to City Council that demonstrates our members' experiences and what they would like to see changed in order to make their environments better. So we're currently planning and preparing that. And in addition to that, a lot of our conversations around public safety have been done more at the community level. And so what that's looked like is we've hosted - our Capitol Hill Business Alliance has been really on board with trying to prepare our businesses to protect and to basically just secure their own premises. And so what that looks like is we've had a lot of events with non-police related trainings - and so that looks like public defense trainings, personal defense. We've had events where we have private security folks come in and show businesses what are the best practices for environmental security, where should you put your lights and your cameras, and things like that. And we've had just a lot of different - we've been trying to promote a lot of different ways for community to help support each other. So on Capitol Hill, for example, we're creating a Slack channel for businesses to communicate amongst each other - where if there's an area of concern, or if there's an employee that needs additional help like walking to a bus stop after their shift or something like that - that businesses can talk to each other, and to connect in that way, and have that kind of additional safety net. So a lot of our response so far has been kind of community-based and creating those types of networks, but we're looking to, and we're wanting to expand, those conversations more into the sphere with our elected officials.

[00:15:33] Crystal Fincher: That sounds good, and we'll definitely be looking forward to that letter also. I also want to talk about the issue of revitalizing the economy. Certainly businesses of all types struggled to get through the pandemic - the pandemic is still here and happening - and businesses are facing a number of challenges from hiring and retaining employees, to understanding benefits, to just dealing with this larger economy. What are you hearing from your members are the biggest issues businesses are facing right now and what would help?

[00:16:06] Gabriel Neuman: One of the big issues is going back to the earlier topic of taxation - is that businesses pay a ton in business and occupation tax. As you know, Washington has the most regressive tax system in the nation - and so instead of relying on an income tax, a lot of our taxes come from B&O, or business and occupation tax, which is directly placed on our business owners. In fact, in Seattle, our business owners pay around 70% of Seattle taxes, so a ton of money goes in there and it's hurting folks. And so we're trying to find ways to promote a more equitable tax structure so that our businesses can continue to thrive and that our government is working to support that. So that's one thing on the advocacy space.

In addition, a big thing that we see is - are gaps in workforce development. There are a lot of positions that are open that people just are not applying for and that there are just not enough - that people, that the skills related to those careers are just not being offered at or made available at an economic rate for people. And so they cannot get those skills and so they cannot work at those jobs. So we have been really going forward with workforce development - this has been one of our big platforms for this year - is really trying to find ways to support our community in entering into those spaces. So there are expected needs for a lot of totally niche and really cool industries, like maritime officers - they need people to run the ferries, or people to do mechanics on our buses in King County, or folks to work at the airports - really cool stuff. So through our scholarship program, we just created a new source of funding that supports folks going through certificate programs. So now you can sign up, you can apply to our scholarship - and if you're wanting to go through a certificate program, then we can work with you to find out funding for that and through that route. And then in addition, we're also creating a workforce portal to allow folks to - who have gone through our programming - to connect to our businesses. And so we're doing a lot of promotion and facilitation for our members to be able to have the skills they need to enter there.

But then there's, on the flip side, there's also a component of - we need to make sure that these industries are ready for our community, that they are ready to support and to accept LGBTQ folks. And so - because we want to make sure that we're sending people into a work environment that's gonna be successful for them. So we have an amazing LGBTQ inclusion program that we offer for organizations - where we go in and we, first we meet with the org, and see what type of support is it that you need? What do you want that to look like? And then we help with making a plan, and we have presentations where we can come in and speak with you and your employees and just give you the one-on-one on how to welcome LGBTQ folks into your org. And so we're building out that program much more and we're really proud of that. And then in addition to the kind of presentation and consulting piece, we're also creating a suite of actual products that businesses can use - for example, a guide on how to deal with name changes in the workplace, how employees and bosses and colleagues can all support that and different things like that. Another thing is helping employers to understand what a trans-friendly healthcare plan looks like for employees. So we are trying to take the extra step of not just saying - Make sure that you have a DEI statement - but instead going deeper and saying - What is the infrastructure that you have set up right now? And what can we do to make it a better environment for folks who are going to be joining your industry? So those are two areas in workforce development that we're helping with, but this is a statewide issue and it intersects with many other issues that are also impacting Washington.

Kind of the third thing that employers are facing is that childcare, or the lack thereof, is also having a huge hindrance on their employees and on workforce retention. Because how are you supposed to take care of your kids, and work at a job, or go get your training, or do these things? And so AWB - the Washington Chamber - Association of Washington Business says that childcare is going to be one of the biggest issues going forward in the business advocacy front, just because of how substantially that impacts. So we're doing some research into better understanding that piece as well and how that affects our members.

[00:20:34] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, absolutely. And those are all really important - glad to hear that they are in the priority. And it really does bring home the point that businesses do have to contend with societal issues and the impacts on their employees, potential employees, other people in the community. So things like you talked about - just the absolute evil and hostile legislation against - starting against the trans community, but it seems to be expanding against everyone. It is just so challenging. And you talk about the important work and really helpful work of helping your members in the greater business community really structurally and institutionally set up processes that will sustain equitable treatment of everyone.

When it comes to a wide variety of businesses - certainly small businesses are facing a lot of challenges. Do you find that with issues like the B&O tax, taxation overall, that small businesses are being burdened more than larger corporations?

[00:21:34] Gabriel Neuman: I cannot - I am not too familiar with the full tax scheme of larger corporations, but I can say that small businesses are facing huge crises with what they're dealing with in terms of taxation. There's, like in Seattle, they pay 70% of our taxes here. And there's just this kind of gap where we're seeing - well, they're paying - while folks are paying these taxes, they're still not seeing a lot of their essential services getting covered, at least in Seattle. So for example, we field a lot of concerns around excess trash in certain areas in the neighborhood, or we're seeing businesses have to respond to behavioral health crises in a way that hopefully a medically trained person employed by a state agency would be able to better respond to. And even things like our roads not being sufficient for bikers or for walkers being able to go to those places. These issues continue, these kind of basic infrastructure issues continue to impact businesses, and so when they're paying these taxes and they're not seeing these kind of basic things being done in their neighborhoods - there's this question of, What am I, what is this for? And again, that kind of feeds back into this lack of trust in our institutions and it exacerbates this dynamic - this kind of us-versus-them dynamic that we really don't want to see and it's not helping anyone. So I think that it's the amount of taxes people pay, but then also just what are the actual material results that they're seeing out of this? And so that's what kind of, we're trying to do a lot of work with our City government to help them understand that issue and to expand programming and support into those areas that - the kind of bread and butter of our communities.

[00:23:23] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. Another issue that everyone is contending with is housing and that absolutely impacts who can live in an area, dictates who can work in an area, and whether employers can retain employees, and what kind of wages are competitive. Are you active in housing advocacy?

[00:23:42] Gabriel Neuman: We are not active in housing advocacy right now, but that is something that I want to get advocacy going on in the upcoming year. This is my first year in this position. And so there are a lot of areas where we really, for my first year, wanted to focus on setting the stage as a business organization and focusing really on the kind of business issues. But now that we are facing the intersection of all these things - housing is a business issue now, childcare is a business issue now - businesses are having to have opinions on and stances on things that they never had to before. And so GSBA, as a result, is now expanding into more of these different areas too. We want to make sure that we're educated and that we're having - that our analysis is reflective of the evidence. And so I've been doing a lot of research and trying to understand the housing issues from multiple different lenses, and as well as our Policy Council as well, so that we can have more of an engagement with that next year. But that is another - that is one of the major issues for our businesses - is housing, because how are you supposed to find employees? Again, harking back to that workforce development issue, how are you supposed to find folks that can afford to live near your business, or can afford to drive - transport to your business - and who have the skills to do that? Like it's just incompatible - something needs to change. So yes, we're going to be entering that field a lot more.

[00:25:14] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. So we're in the midst of City Council elections in the City of Seattle - you have a lot on your docket and you have a lot of advocacy that you do within the City - it's a major economic engine for the county and the state. Are you engaging in these City Council elections?

[00:25:33] Gabriel Neuman: Yeah, so we are - we're working with Capitol Hill Business Alliance, which is the Chamber of Commerce on Capitol Hill. They also are under the GSBA umbrella, so they're part of our org. We're collaborating with CHBA on a District 3 reception, and that will be a space for - we're inviting all the candidates that are running for District 3 to Optimism in a very kind of casual atmosphere where folks can come and they can have those one-on-one conversations and meet those people as people. So we're really excited about that, and that'll be on July 20th. And then after the primaries are over, we're partnering with Seattle City Club to host a series of four debates in the contentious elections. And as someone who's done debate for more than half my life, I'm very excited to help with that. So yeah, we're really focusing on trying to get the word out about those elections and increase engagement 'cause it's really important.

[00:26:25] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. Are you seeing any specific policy directions that your membership or that you could say your membership is looking for, leaning towards from these candidates?

[00:26:38] Gabriel Neuman: Yeah, I think that we - our members want something - they want to see, they want a representative that will listen to them and that will come to them and say - I'm your representative, here's who I am. What can I do for you? They want a representative that listens to them and that will - that wants to incorporate that perspective. Because every neighborhood in Seattle is unique and every neighborhood has its own character, and that's important for representatives to embody that and to reflect that. And especially in Capitol Hill, businesses want to know how they can stay safe and they want to be able to know that their neighborhood is going to retain the aura of safety so that folks will continue to go there. But again, they also do not want to see that reflected as more uniformed police officers walking around Capitol Hill. They want to see a community-oriented solution to this. And what that means is a representative that really understands the community and that knows how they can talk to the community to come to ways to bridge these issues. So definitely someone that's willing to come to the table on that.

So I definitely say public safety and business taxation as well. There's a recent - recently Councilmember Pedersen brought forward the idea of a potential capital gains tax in Seattle, which would again impact the business community. And we're still - right now we're trying to find ways to enter that conversation and explain and try to find ways to make sure that that taxation doesn't actually affect our members. They want equitable taxation, is what I'm saying there. And housing - they want people to work at their businesses and that means access to housing, access to transportation. It's interesting, especially over the last few years, I've noticed that a lot of organizations are taking a much more social justice-oriented lens to policy issues because - again, that area of intersectionality is becoming much, much more apparent and it's not something that companies can ignore anymore. And it's been really fun to see this kind of increase in desire for participating in those conversations and how those partnerships can look in the future.

[00:28:53] Crystal Fincher: Sure. Another issue that is top on the minds of residents and businesses both is that of homelessness and the struggle that the entire region is having with this. What do you advocate for at GSBA to try and meaningfully address this issue?

[00:29:13] Gabriel Neuman: Yeah, there's - the one thing that comes to mind is we are trying to help connect those folks to - back to their community. We want unhoused folks to know that they are a part of a community and that they have a space for them. And one part of that looks like initiatives helping businesses to prepare to hire folks that have been involved in the criminal justice system. And so there is a Ban the Box initiative in Seattle and now what we're doing with our business consulting services is making sure that employers are aware of - that they should be hiring folks that were formerly incarcerated, that these people are awesome and still need to be considered as members of our community and helping them to onboard and prepare for that. That's one thing we're doing. Another thing is we are - I want GSBA to get more involved in the local referendums. And I've been in communication to see what we can do to support the new Housing Levy that'll be introduced to expand housing. We were very supportive of the behavioral health crisis levy that was just passed, we're really excited about that. And we're wanting to continue to work with those groups as well so that we can have pipelines of - Okay, if you know someone that wants to work at this, in this industry, in the maritime industry who is unhoused and they're going through your program to get housing, how can they connect with us so that we can support them in the workforce development area? So really trying to bridge those resource gaps and communicate with our community partners in that.

[00:30:49] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. Another issue facing the region is that of transit and transportation. We have lots of investments, continue to need more in road maintenance and safety - but also a focus on people who don't drive, or who choose not to drive, or can't drive and who are walking or riding or rolling or on transit. What are the top priorities in terms of transportation and mobility for GSBA?

[00:31:19] Gabriel Neuman: Yeah, transportation is - it really is about being able to get from where you're living to where you're working. And we wanna make sure that there are bus routes that enter into the lesser-served neighborhoods and that transportation options are being introduced and promoted in those neighborhoods, so that those folks that don't have access - that might not have a car - can actually get access to those major transport hubs. So increasing bus access and then also increasing - again, particularly increasing transportation to those major transport hubs, like the light rail stations and things like that, so that people can get into the core area and then go off to where they need to go. That's one aspect. And then another thing that we've been doing is we've been working with our ride share companies in helping to aid them in setting up ride share infrastructure in cities that are not Seattle - having Lime bikes in smaller towns, for example, or in Eastern Washington. Or the scooters, as well - seeing those types of services in smaller areas, because they're fantastic in enabling people, again, to bridge those transportation gaps. And you see a lot of those transportation gaps in smaller towns and smaller areas. And that's where those kind of ride share programs can go a really long way in allowing people just the accessibility and the freedom to move around where they live more. We've been really excited about that.

And then on the LGBT side, working with the ride share companies to understand what are the specific experiences that LGBTQ community has in accessing those services and how can we expand that into, again, into expansion into those smaller towns - like where do queer people go in those towns? Where are the routes most likely gonna be taken and how can we make sure the infrastructure is built up to facilitate that? Lots of kind of little niche things in there that we've been having a great time with.

[00:33:19] Crystal Fincher: That sounds good. And as we close today, are there any thoughts or particularly helpful things that you would leave people with that they should know or that would be particularly helpful in helping and supporting our small business community?

[00:33:36] Gabriel Neuman: Our small business community, I think - honestly, I would say that the best way to have your voice heard is to really talk to your elected officials. And we can help that, we can help facilitate that. Or if you just call or email their office - they want to hear from you and they want to know what it is that you're experiencing. And they literally cannot hear from you unless they hear from you. Please do that outreach and please let them know when they do things that you like as well, because they need that positive feedback. But more than that, just know that you have some really awesome advocates behind you. The GSBA is one wing of a much larger business support network across Washington State. And I've had the pleasure of meeting with a lot of these folks and everybody's in it for the right reasons and they are in it to support you. And that is no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And utilize us as well - not just GSBA - utilize us, but utilize your business support community writ large around you to see what avenues and resources are available for you, because there are so many too that you might just not be aware of. I would say that to the business community.

Can I have a shout out to our LGBTQ community as well? I just want to say, I know this year has been very tortuous and very sad, with the legislation and the legislative attacks that our community has had nationwide. It's just been one thing after another, but Washington has your back. Washington has just passed this suite of transformative policy that will help to shield you if you are thinking of coming here, or if you are here thinking of and have a family that want to come spend time with you, or whatever - Washington has your back. And we are also continuing to build on that infrastructure. And we're continuing to look at these and have a proactive stance and a proactive approach to what is it that people in our community need and what is it that they're not getting, and how can we bridge that? Please know that in spite of what you've heard nationwide, Washington is continuing to be a safe space and we've got you.

[00:35:47] Crystal Fincher: Thank you so much for that. And as a queer business owner myself, appreciate the work that you do and that you continue to do and the policy that you're pushing towards. If people want to find out more information about GSBA, how can they do that?

[00:36:01] Gabriel Neuman: You can visit us on our website, You can also see us on social media - we're just GSBA on Facebook and Instagram and all that. And you can also email me - I'm

[00:36:16] Crystal Fincher: Thank you so much for joining us today.

[00:36:18] Gabriel Neuman: Thank you so much for having us.

[00:36:20] Crystal Fincher: Thank you for listening to Hacks & Wonks, which is produced by Shannon Cheng. You can follow Hacks & Wonks on Twitter @HacksWonks. You can catch Hacks & Wonks on every podcast service and app - just type "Hacks and Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get the full versions of our Friday week-in-review shows and our Tuesday topical show delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, leave a review wherever you listen. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced in the show at and in the podcast episode notes.

Thanks for tuning in - talk to you next time.