Southwestern Utah will soon have added support for the LGBTQ community. The Utah LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce formed its first regional chapter in Southern Utah. Led by Southern Utah Chamber Chair Mel Nimer and Southern Utah Safe Zone Chair Amberlyn Storey, the chapter will provide businesses and community members in Washington County and the surrounding area opportunities throughout the year to access business development resources and funding, book free SafeZone inclusivity training for their staff, and connect with other like-minded business owners.
“As the Utah LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce and SafeZone Utah, we are committed to supporting a healthy economy throughout our State, to providing opportunities for LGBTQ+ and Allied businesses to thrive, and to fostering inclusive and welcoming spaces for LGBTQ+ community members,” Liz Pitts, CEO and president of the Utah LGBTQ+ Chamber wrote in a statement. “Operating a chapter in Southern Utah is critical to our mission, and we are thrilled to be working in support of local businesses and community organizations in Washington County and the surrounding area.”
“What we see is larger numbers of college students coming into the area who are generally very open to LGBTQ+ issues, and a growing and diverse group of new residents arriving from other states. We want to promote a welcoming business presence,” Nimer said.
Member businesses and affiliated agencies in five southern counties will be invited to participate in the new chapter.
Local government leaders have participated in local unifying efforts, including St. George Mayor Michele Randall and at least one St. George City Council member.
Chapter members are helping to promote a drag bingo fundraiser in St. George, conducted by Safe Zone Utah, a program that was spawned by the Utah LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce. Drag Bingo will be presented April 2 from 6–8 pm at Caffe Elevato in St. George. For further details or to make a donation of door prizes inquire at Amberlyn.Storey@safezoneutah.org.
Other chapter events in southern Utah are currently in planning for late Spring.
The Utah LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce promotes business contacts, works with economic development, and provides fundraising for community activities without regard to sexual or gender identity or gender expression. A member directory is published on its website, listing member corporations, sole proprietorships, and independent agents.
SafeZone is a network for awareness and education, and in Utah is sponsored by the Chamber. The Southern Utah SafeZone trainer is Amberlyn Storey.
SafeZone shares resources for anti-bullying, domestic violence, homelessness, and suicide prevention. Storey offers local businesses a two-hour experiential program for employees on creating a “safe zone” within their company.