In an effort to provide an increasing directory of gay and gay-friendly businesses for the community, the Compass Pride Business Alliance (PBA) will host their monthly mixer on Feb. 24 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
This month, the event takes place at the Residence Inn, 455 Hibiscus St. in West Palm Beach.
“These meetings are essential,” said PBA business development associate Adrienne Percival. “They are a wonderful regular opportunity for those who are looking to grow or develop their own businesses to connect with Compass Community Center and be updated on the great work being done.”
At the mixers, the host companies provide food and drink and all attendees are welcomed and encouraged to socialize and make networking connections, with new members receiving special introductions. Later on in the event, host companies typically offer presentations on their products and services.
“I'd describe the atmosphere as friendly, professional, and relaxed,” Percival said. “There's a nice mix of regular attendees and new faces.”
The Pride Business Alliance was founded in 2005 to create a safe network between gay and gay-friendly businesses and individuals. After a strong community-based interest in reaching out to the gay market, Compass staff researched into creating a gay chamber of commerce in Palm Beach County. They soon found out that the tax structure of the chamber was incompatible with the non-profit status of the organization. In response, Compass created the Pride Business Alliance as a community outreach program.
The launch was also a response to a number of horror stories that the LGBT community faced when looking for gay-friendly businesses. According to a 2011 interview with Julie Seaver, Center Operations Director at Compass Community Center, a lesbian couple called Compass for a plumber referral before the creation of PBA. Once the plumber found out that the women he was working for were gay, he dropped his work and left an incomplete and disheveled kitchen sink behind. This story and others like it inspired a need for a source of LGBT-friendly businesses.
The mixers usually take place on the last Wednesday every month at varying Pride Business Alliance member locations, such as churches, body shops, nightclubs and more. The first mixer had over 50 attendees and took place at Grandview Gardens Bed & Breakfast. The next mixer will take place on Mar. 16 at Tidelines Ocean Resort and Spa in Palm Beach from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Within the ten years since its creation, the mixers have been a huge success.
“In the last year our number of attendees has grown and that has influenced which venues are a good match,” Percival said. “Last year we had as many as 175 at the Norton Museum in August,” which was a “Joint meeting with Chamber of the Palm Beaches Young Professionals.”
Percival encourages new and prospective members to just jump right in on the PBA Mixer. “Whether you'd like to network with LGBTQ business owners or want to market to the LGBTQ community, grab a stack of business cards and join us,” she said.
The event is free for members of the Pride Business Alliance and the Compass Community Center. For non-members tickets are $10.
A membership with PBA offers free admission to all networking mixers, eligibility for discounts by fellow members’ businesses, an individual listing on the www.compassglcc.com website and more.
For more information on the Pride Business Alliance Mixers as well as how to register, visit PBA-feb.eventbrite.com.